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Components of disinhibition (vs. constraint) differentially predict aggression and alcohol use



Disinhibition (vs. Constraint; DvC), which has been shown to represent a central aspect of the externalizing domain, consists of several correlated but distinguishable underlying traits, which may have different patterns of association with various externalizing indicators. In a sample of 18- to 19-year old undergraduate students (N = 430; 71.1% female), we examined the specificity and generality of the association between lower order components of DvC and both aggression and alcohol use, externalizing-related behavioural constructs that have well-established links to DvC. All three components of DvC—including Disagreeableness, low Self-Control and low Accomplishment—were associated independently with Reactive Aggression, but only Disagreeableness was correlated significantly with Proactive Aggression. Also, only low Self-Control was associated with alcohol use. Thus, aggression was broadly associated with components of DvC—although much more strongly with the Disagreeableness domain—whereas alcohol use was specifically correlated with low Self-Control. These results suggest that lower order components of DvC have distinct patterns of associations with externalizing-related outcomes. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.