Trait Aggression and Problematic Alcohol Use Among College Students: The Moderating Effect of Distress Tolerance
Article first published online: 24 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2013 by the Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume 37, Issue 12, pages 2138–2144, December 2013
How to Cite
Ali, B., Ryan, J. S., Beck, K. H. and Daughters, S. B. (2013), Trait Aggression and Problematic Alcohol Use Among College Students: The Moderating Effect of Distress Tolerance. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37: 2138–2144. doi: 10.1111/acer.12198
- Issue published online: 3 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 24 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 12 OCT 2012
- NIH. Grant Number: RO1 DA026424
- Alcohol Use;
- Distress Tolerance;
- Trait Aggression
Trait aggression has been linked to alcohol-related problems among college students. However, the individual conditions underlying this association are unknown. Empirical evidence and theory suggest the importance of distress tolerance, defined as an individual's ability to withstand negative affective states, in the relationship between trait aggression and alcohol use. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to examine whether distress tolerance moderates the relationship between trait aggression and problematic alcohol use.
Participants were 646 undergraduate students in a large university, who reported any lifetime alcohol use. The dependent variable, problematic alcohol use, was measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test total score. The main independent variable, trait aggression, was assessed on the negative emotionality scale of the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire, and the moderator, distress tolerance, was determined using the Distress Tolerance Scale.
Hierarchical linear regression analyses indicated a significant interaction between trait aggression and distress tolerance in predicting problematic alcohol use, adjusting for demographic variables, regular substance use, depressive symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. Specifically, a significant positive relationship between trait aggression and problematic alcohol use was present among those with low, but not high, distress tolerance.
Results provide evidence that college students with high levels of trait aggression are more likely to engage in problematic alcohol use if they also evidence an inability to tolerate negative affective states. Study implications are discussed, including the development of prevention and intervention programs that target distress tolerance skills.