Download full-text PDF

Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents involved in the child welfare system

Article (PDF Available) inPersonality and Individual Differences 81 · December 2015with262 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
Amanda Hudson at Dalhousie University
  • 19.06
  • Dalhousie University
Christine Wekerle at McMaster University
  • 35.25
  • McMaster University
Sherry H Stewart at Dalhousie University
  • 44.77
  • Dalhousie University
Abstract
a b s t r a c t Specific personality dimensions may increase susceptibility to alcohol misuse by encouraging motives for drinking that are associated with risky alcohol use. In the current study, we examined associations between personality risk factors (hopelessness (HOP), anxiety sensitivity (AS), sensation seeking (SS), and impulsivity (IMP)) and drinking motives (coping, conformity, enhancement, and social motives) in a sample of high-risk youth receiving child protection services. These personality factors were assessed using the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS) and drinking motives were assessed using the Drink-ing Motives Questionnaire-Revised (DMQ-R). The structural validity of the DMQ-R was first explored in this novel sample of high-risk adolescents using principal components analysis. Correlational analyses showed that HOP and IMP were associated with drinking to cope with negative emotions, and AS was associated with drinking to conform. Unexpectedly, enhancement motives were not related to any of the personality dimensions. This suggests that youth receiving child welfare services who are high in the described personality risk factors drink primarily for negative reinforcement.
Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents
involved in the child welfare system
Amanda Hudson
a,
, Christine Wekerle
b
, Sherry H. Stewart
c,a
a
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada
b
The MAP Longitudinal Study Research Team, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
c
Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 2E2, Canada
article info
Article history:
Received 3 February 2014
Received in revised form 23 November 2014
Accepted 4 December 2014
Available online xxxx
Keywords:
Drinking motives
Personality
Child welfare
abstract
Specific personality dimensions may increase susceptibility to alcohol misuse by encouraging motives for
drinking that are associated with risky alcohol use. In the current study, we examined associations
between personality risk factors (hopelessness (HOP), anxiety sensitivity (AS), sensation seeking (SS),
and impulsivity (IMP)) and drinking motives (coping, conformity, enhancement, and social motives) in
a sample of high-risk youth receiving child protection services. These personality factors were assessed
using the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS) and drinking motives were assessed using the Drink-
ing Motives Questionnaire-Revised (DMQ-R). The structural validity of the DMQ-R was first explored in
this novel sample of high-risk adolescents using principal components analysis. Correlational analyses
showed that HOP and IMP were associated with drinking to cope with negative emotions, and AS was
associated with drinking to conform. Unexpectedly, enhancement motives were not related to any of
the personality dimensions. This suggests that youth receiving child welfare services who are high in
the described personality risk factors drink primarily for negative reinforcement.
Ó2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Adolescence represents a period of development with a variety
of challenges, including difficulties with substance use and alcohol
use (e.g., Rehm et al., 2005). In terms of alcohol use/abuse, some
populations of adolescents are more at-risk than others. For
instance, adolescents who have been exposed to family violence,
neglected, or physically, sexually or emotionally abused are at
increased risk of early alcohol use (Hamburger, Leeb, & Swahn,
2008). Further, youth from dysfunctional families tend to report
high levels of binge drinking (Tucker, Orlando, & Ellickson, 2003).
In the current study, we aim to examine links between personality
and motives for drinking in adolescents who present with a num-
ber of these risk factors, namely those involved in the child welfare
system.
Specific personality dimensions have been proposed to increase
vulnerability to alcohol use and misuse (Pihl & Peterson, 1995):
hopelessness (HOP; pessimism about the self, world, and future,
and proneness to depression; Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989;
Conrod, Pihl, Stewart, & Dongier, 2000), anxiety sensitivity (AS;
fear of anxiety-related sensations; Reiss, Peterson, Gursky, &
McNally, 1986), sensation seeking (SS; preference for novel and
intense activities; Zuckerman, 1994), and impulsivity (IMP; action
without sufficient forethought; Dawe & Loxton, 2004). According
to Pihl and Peterson, these personality traits reflect individual var-
iability in psychobiological systems responsible for affect, cogni-
tion, and susceptibility to substance abuse. Indeed, HOP and AS
have been associated with greater alcohol-related problems in
adolescence and adulthood (Krank et al., 2010; Stewart &
Kushner, 2001; Stewart, Peterson, & Pihl, 1995). Youth high in SS
and IMP report a variety of risky alcohol use patterns, including
heavy drinking (Conrod, Stewart, Comeau, & Maclean, 2006;
Krank et al., 2010) and adults high in SS and IMP are more prone
to alcohol dependence (Conrod et al., 2000). Comparable findings
have been obtained with at-risk youth receiving child welfare ser-
vices, with HOP, SS, and IMP correlating with drinking levels and
alcohol problems, and AS correlating with difficulties stopping
drinking (Stewart, McGonnell, Wekerle, & Adlaf, 2011).
Personality factors may increase susceptibility to alcohol abuse
by encouraging risky motives for drinking. That is, certain motives
for drinking have been associated with problematic alcohol use.
These include coping motives (drinking to alleviate negative emo-
tions), conformity motives (drinking to avoid social costs), and
enhancement motives (drinking to enhance positive emotions)
(Cooper, 1994). Social motives (drinking for positive social reasons
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
0191-8869/Ó2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 (902) 494 3793; fax: +1 (902) 494 6585.
E-mail address: a.hudson@dal.ca (A. Hudson).
Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2014) xxx–xxx
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Personality and Individual Differences
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/paid
Please cite this article in press as: Hudson, A., et al. Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents involved in the child welfare
system. Personality and Individual Differences (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
like affiliation) have also been identified, although these have pro-
ven to be less problematic (Cooper, 1994). More specifically, social
motives represent normative reasons for drinking and have been
found to be unrelated to negative drinking outcomes (Cooper,
1994). In theory, youth high in HOP and AS may drink to alleviate
or cope with negative emotions like sadness and anxiety. In con-
trast, individuals high in SS may consume alcohol for its rewarding
properties, whereas those high in IMP may drink for immediate
positive or negative reinforcement, as these individuals often have
self-regulatory deficits (Pihl & Peterson, 1995). In other words,
highly IMP individuals may drink to remove negative affect (nega-
tive reinforcement) or to achieve positive affect (positive reinforce-
ment), and may do so in a hasty manner. Examining links between
personality and drinking motives has clinical utility, as it allows us
to identify potential mechanisms or pathways that lead to alcohol
abuse for particular groups of individuals.
In general, research with youth from the general population has
supported Pihl and Peterson’s (1995) theory, revealing relations
between HOP and AS and alcohol use to cope with negative affec-
tive states (Stewart & Kushner, 2001; Woicik, Conrod, Stewart, &
Pihl, 2009). AS has also been associated with conformity motives
for drinking in a non-clinical sample of adolescents (Comeau,
Stewart, & Loba, 2001). In these same samples of youth, SS has
been linked to enhancement motives for drinking (Comeau et al.,
2001; Woicik et al., 2009), while IMP has been associated with var-
ied motives for drinking, perhaps because IMP entails impulsive
behaviors in the face of both reward and punishment (Woicik
et al., 2009).
Although links between personality risk factors and risky
motives for drinking have been established in youth from the gen-
eral population (Comeau et al., 2001; Woicik et al., 2009), there
remains a need to study these relations in at-risk samples. As noted
earlier, one population at risk for developing alcohol problems is
adolescents who have been exposed to abuse or who come from
disrupted families. Many adolescents in these situations end up
in the care of child welfare services. In an attempt to understand
predictive factors and outcomes of youth in child welfare services
in Ontario, the Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathways (MAP) pro-
ject was launched (Wekerle et al., 2009). The MAP project collected
information on maltreatment, exposure to violence, and substance
use (including alcohol use). In the current paper, we explore the
factorial structure of a commonly used self-report measure of
drinking motives (the Drinking Motives Questionnaire-Revised,
DMQ-R; Cooper, 1994) for the first time in this sample of at-risk
youth. In addition, we present findings from the MAP project
regarding relations between personality and drinking motive fac-
tors. Understanding links between personality risk factors and
drinking motives in youth involved in child welfare is of special
interest, given the high levels of alcohol use in this population.
Moreover, our focus on a high-risk population is warranted, con-
sidering that relations between personality risk factors and
motives for drinking may be somewhat divergent in high-risk sam-
ples as compared to those in the general population (e.g., O’Connor
et al., 2012). As such, it is useful to study drinking motives and per-
sonality risk factors separately in such at-risk samples so as to
inform clinicians of the potentially unique treatment needs of
these individuals.
Predictions about how personality factors would relate with
drinking motives were made based on theory (Pihl & Peterson,
1995) and previous research in youth from the general population
(Comeau et al., 2001; Woicik et al., 2009). That is, AS and HOP were
expected to correlate with coping motives, and AS was also
expected to correlate with conformity motives. Associations
between SS and enhancement motives were anticipated, while
IMP was projected to correspond with varied motives for drinking
(i.e., correlations with coping, enhancement, and social motives
alike). We also explored the factor structure of the DMQ-R in this
sample of youth receiving child welfare services since the structure
of this measure has never before been examined in this high-risk
population. Exploratory principal components analysis has been
used in examining the factor structure of the DMQ-R in other
high-risk samples (Aboriginal youth), revealing different factors
than those previously observed in the general population (e.g., no
separate social motives factor; Mushquash, Stewart, Comeau, &
McGrath, 2008).
2. Method
2.1. Participants
Participants for the current study were a subset of participants
from the MAP project. Participants were randomly selected
through child welfare services (Children’s Aid Societies; CAS) in
Ontario, Canada. At initial testing, 561 youth had agreed to partic-
ipate and had completed an initial questionnaire package. The 197
participants in the current study were those who, at the time anal-
yses were conducted, had completed the Substance Use Risk Profile
Scale (SURPS; Woicik et al., 2009) at one-year follow-up assess-
ments. The majority of these youth had been involved with child
welfare services for a long period of time (six months or longer)
and were receiving the highest level of services (Crown Wards
whose parental care had been terminated). Within this sample,
126 (64%) reported using alcohol in the past 12 months in response
to a question asking how often they drink (i.e., those responding
‘‘never’’ were excluded). Of these participants, the majority
reported drinking one to three times a month. These past year
drinkers ranged in age from 15 to 20 (M= 16.9; SD = 1.2) years
and were 57% female. Only past year drinkers with no missing val-
ues on the DMQ-R were included in the principal components
analysis of DMQ-R items (n= 119) and only those with complete
data on the DMQ-R and SURPS were included in the correlational
analysis (n= 83). Youth less than 16 years of age had their parents
or guardians provide informed consent. Participants who were 16
and over provided informed consent themselves. Ethics approval
was obtained from participating CAS agencies and university
Research Ethics Boards.
2.2. Measures
2.2.1. Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS)
The SURPS (Woicik et al., 2009) is a 23-item self-report measure
that assesses four personality dimensions associated with alcohol
use and abuse (HOP, AS, SS, and IMP). Participants rate each item
on a scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree).
Based on the number of items in each scale, the scores range from 4
to 20 for AS and IMP, from 4 to 24 for SS, and from 4 to 28 for HOP.
See Table 1 for means (and standard deviations) for the SURPS
scales. The SURPS has a stable four factor structure and the four
scales show adequate internal consistency and concurrent
Table 1
Means and standard deviations for SURPS and DMQ-R scales.
Mean (SD)
SURPS HOP 20.42 (3.15)
AS 10.68 (3.11)
SS 14.94 (3.98)
IMP 11.48 (3.04)
DMQ-R ENH 1.34 (1.17)
CONF 0.32 (0.69)
COP 0.94 (1.04)
SOC 1.63 (1.10)
2A. Hudson et al. / Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2014) xxx–xxx
Please cite this article in press as: Hudson, A., et al. Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents involved in the child welfare
system. Personality and Individual Differences (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
(Woicik et al., 2009) and predictive (Krank et al., 2010) validity in
non-clinical samples of adolescents. Recently, the factor structure
and validity of the SURPS has been verified in youth receiving child
welfare services (see Stewart et al., 2011). Factor scores from this
previous analysis were used in the current study’s hypothesis tests.
Cronbach’s alphas were .82, .72, .70, and .73 for hopelessness, anx-
iety sensitivity, sensation seeking, and impulsivity scales, in that
order.
2.2.2. Drinking Motives Questionnaire-Revised (DMQ-R)
The DMQ-R (Cooper, 1994) is a 20-item self-report question-
naire that assesses four motives for drinking: coping, conformity,
social, and enhancement. Exemplar items include ‘‘To forget about
your problems’’ (coping), ‘‘To fit in with a group you like’’ (confor-
mity), ‘‘To celebrate a special occasion with friends’’ (social), and
‘‘Because it’s fun’’ (enhancement). Respondents rate how fre-
quently they drink for each reason, on a scale ranging from 1
(almost never/never) to 5 (almost always/always). See Table 1 for
means (and standard deviations) for coping, conformity, social,
and enhancement scales. The DMQ-R has been shown to have good
reliability and predictive validity in adolescents and young adults
(e.g., Comeau et al., 2001; Cooper, 1994; Kuntsche, Knibbe, Gmel,
& Engels, 2006). Cronbach’s alphas for the enhancement, confor-
mity, coping, and social motives scales were .90, .90, .89, and .86,
in that order.
3. Results
3.1. Principal components analysis of the DMQ-R Items
A principal components analysis was conducted on the DMQ-R
item scores. This form of factor analysis was selected since we
were interested in exploring the factor structure of the measure
in this novel high-risk sample where the DMQ-R had not previ-
ously been employed (Thompson, 2004), as opposed to testing con-
ceptual models of drinking motives (Cooper, 1994). Others have
taken a similar approach in examining the factor structure of the
DMQ-R in novel at-risk populations, such as Aboriginal youth
(Mushquash et al., 2008). Varimax rotation was selected to create
drinking motives factors that were uncorrelated with one another,
which would allow for examination of the unique associations of
motives and personality factors. Four factors with eigenvalues >1
emerged (eigenvalues = 8.379, 3.049, 1.649, and 1.114), accounting
for 70.95 percent of the variance in DMQ-R item scores. Visual
inspection of the scree plot also supported extraction of four fac-
tors. Examination of items that loaded onto each factor revealed
that the factors represented enhancement, conformity, coping,
and social motives, respectively. Thus, the four factor structure of
the DMQ-R obtained in previous research using youth from the
general population (Cooper, 1994) was replicated in this sample
of high-risk youth.
Most of the DMQ-R items loaded only onto the factor associated
with their subscale (based on factor loadings of .400), although
there were some exceptions. ‘‘Because you feel more self-confident
and sure of yourself’’, which was a coping subscale item, showed a
cross-loading on the conformity motives factor. In addition, two
social subscale items, ‘‘Because it makes social gatherings more
fun’’ and ‘‘Because it improves parties and celebrations’’, showed
cross loadings on the enhancement motives factor. Another social
subscale item, ‘‘Because it helps you enjoy a party’’, showed a cross
loading on the coping motives factor. In short, there were four
complex items with salient loadings on more than one factor, no
hyperplane items that failed to load on any factor, and an adequate
number of salient loadings per factor. As such, the four-factor solu-
tion showed adequate ‘simple structure’ (Thurstone, 1947). The
communalities for this four factor solution ranged from .516 (for
‘‘Because your friends pressure you to drink’’) to .882 (for ‘‘To be
liked’’), signifying that the four factors together explained from
51.6% to 88.2% of the variance in item scores, across DMQ-R items
(see Table 2).
3.2. Associations between personality factors and drinking motives
Pearson correlations were calculated between factor scores
from the DMQ-R and personality factor scores from the SURPS
(Stewart et al., 2011). One-tailed tests were used given that predic-
tions had been made a priori. A stringent alpha of p= .01 was used
to adjust for the multiple correlations being examined. Expected
positive correlations appeared between HOP and coping motives,
between AS and conformity motives, and between IMP and both
coping and social motives. Unexpectedly, SS was not correlated
with any of the drinking motives factor scores, and none of the per-
sonality factors correlated with enhancement motives (see
Table 3).
Next, to examine how personality factors corresponded with
risky motives for drinking, partial correlations were computed
between personality factor scores and coping, conformity, and
enhancement factor scores (controlling for social factor scores,
which represent a less problematic motive for drinking; Cooper,
1994). This approach was appropriate given our interest in how
personality factors may confer risk for alcohol abuse via associa-
tions with more problematic drinking motives, and is comparable
to correlational analyses in studies on personality and drinking
motives in youth from the general population (Stewart & Devine,
2000). Age and sex were also controlled in the partial correlations
to assess unique links between personality and drinking motives,
after accounting for any influence of age or sex, as younger age
and male sex are well-established risk factors (Littlefield, Sher, &
Wood, 2009, 2010; Wilsnack, Vogeltanz, Wilsnack, & Harris,
2000). After controlling for these, HOP was still significantly corre-
lated with coping motives, AS with conformity motives, and IMP
with coping motives. Once more, enhancement motives were not
implicated in any of the significant relations (see Table 3).
4. Discussion
The purpose of this study was to examine associations between
drinking motives and personality factors in a sample of youth
receiving child welfare services. By studying links between person-
ality factors and motives for drinking, we aimed to provide insight
into potential pathways to alcohol misuse in this particular at-risk
population. In addition, we explored the factor structure of the
DMQ-R, a self-report measure that assesses reasons for drinking
(some of which confer risk for alcohol misuse), in this novel
high-risk sample.
A four factor solution emerged for the DMQ-R, replicating the
factor structure obtained in broad, non-selected samples of youth
(e.g., Cooper, 1994). Specifically, four factors were observed, repre-
senting enhancement, conformity, coping, and social motives for
drinking, and all items loaded onto the factor associated with their
assigned subscale. Our findings thus provide support for the struc-
tural validity of the DMQ-R and suggest that it is appropriate for
use with varied populations, including youth in the child welfare
system. Indeed, the observed factorial validity of the DMQ-R high-
lights its potential for studying reasons for drinking in at-risk
youth in both research and clinical settings.
Meaningful results were also obtained in examining associa-
tions between personality factors and drinking motives. As pre-
dicted, links between HOP and coping motives (i.e., drinking to
reduce negative emotions) appeared, using both zero-order
A. Hudson et al. / Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2014) xxx–xxx 3
Please cite this article in press as: Hudson, A., et al. Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents involved in the child welfare
system. Personality and Individual Differences (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
correlations and when controlling for non-risky social motives, age,
and sex. Thus, depression-prone participants involved with child
welfare report similar coping motives for drinking as depression-
prone adolescents from the general population (Woicik et al.,
2009). Likewise, previously established relations between AS and
conformity motives (i.e., drinking to avoid social rejection;
Comeau et al., 2001; Woicik et al., 2009) were replicated in this
sample of high-risk youth, and these relations remained after par-
tialling out social motives for drinking, age, and sex. Finally, IMP
was associated with coping motives and social motives for drink-
ing, as has been found previously (Woicik et al., 2009), and the
relation of IMP with coping motives remained after partialling
out the less risky social motives factor scores, as well as age and
sex.
In sum, personality risk factors were primarily associated with
negative reinforcement motives for drinking in this sample. More-
over, these associations appear to be specific and theoretically
meaningful: HOP and IMP related with coping motives, and AS
with conformity motives. Thus, drinking may be internally driven
by a need to cope with depressive feelings in HOP individuals,
and by urgency to relieve negativity in IMP individuals. In AS
youth, who may be prone to social anxiety (Stevens et al., 2011),
negative reinforcement drinking seemingly stems from external
motivations (i.e., drinking to fit in). AS has previously been linked
with alcohol problems (i.e., difficulties stopping drinking; Stewart
et al., 2011) in youth receiving child welfare services. Therefore,
our unexpected lack of relation between AS and coping motives
suggests that AS relates with problem drinking by means of use
of alcohol to fit in rather than to cope with negative emotions.
Alternatively, the lack of association between AS and coping
motives might be secondary to our approach for creating orthogo-
nal motives factor scores. Previously observed relations between
AS and coping and conformity motives (Comeau et al., 2001;
Woicik et al., 2009) might be attributable to overlap between these
motives, and the true association might be with conformity
motives for drinking, as seen here. Finally, the failure to observe
relations between AS and coping motives may be due to our inclu-
sive measure of coping motives. Had we separated coping motives
into coping-with-anxiety and coping-with-depression (Grant,
Stewart, O’Connor, Blackwell, & Conrod, 2007), specific relations
between AS and drinking to cope with anxiety may have emerged.
Surprisingly, we did not find associations between enhance-
ment motives (i.e., drinking for pleasurable emotional conse-
quences) and SS or IMP personality factors, even though these
have been reported in studies with youth from the general popula-
tion (Comeau et al., 2001; Woicik et al., 2009). Youth in the child
Table 2
Factor pattern matrix for the principal components analysis on DMQ-R items.
DMQ-R item and intended subscale Factors Communalities
F1-ENH F2-CONF F3-COP F4-SOC
ENH
18. Because it’s fun 0.814 0.044 0.178 0.244 0.783
9. Because it’s exciting 0.804 0.196 0.062 0.157 0.719
7. Because you like the feeling 0.779 0.002 0.217 0.147 0.701
13. Because it gives you a pleasant feeling 0.786 0.102 0.241 0.107 0.721
10. To get high 0.700 0.332 0.234 0.038 0.681
CONF
12. To fit in with a group you like 0.146 0.912 0.106 0.072 0.855
19. To be liked 0.162 0.910 0.165 0.012 0.881
20. So you won’t feel left out 0.185 0.845 0.151 0.078 0.763
8. So that others won’t kid you about not drinking 0.089 0.762 0.307 0.080 0.694
2. Because your friends pressure you to drink 0.080 0.655 0.165 0.230 0.576
COP
17. To forget about your problems 0.190 0.161 0.853 0.127 0.815
1. To forget your worries 0.139 0.154 0.826 0.105 0.733
4. Because it helps you when you feel depressed or nervous 0.230 0.347 0.760 0.040 0.749
6. To cheer up when you are in a bad mood 0.246 0.203 0.747 0.203 0.724
15. Because you feel more self-confident and sure of yourself 0.335 0.459 0.447 0.261 0.605
SOC
16. To celebrate a special occasion with friends 0.253 0.034 0.012 0.714 0.588
5. To be sociable 0.086 0.257 0.361 0.663 0.709
11. Because it makes social gatherings more fun 0.676 0.061 0.083 0.577 0.814
3. Because it helps you enjoy a party 0.360 0.196 0.434 0.552 0.701
14. Because it improves parties and celebrations 0.622 0.168 0.176 0.495 0.720
First four eigenvalues = 8.379, 3.049, 1.649, and 1.114. Factor loadings .400 are shown in bold. Items are grouped by their intended subscale and factors are labeled based on
the content of items with the highest factor loadings.
Table 3
Correlations and partial correlations (controlling for social motives, age, and sex) between SURPS factor scores and DMQ-R factor scores.
SURPS factor DMQ-R factor
ENH CONF COP SOC
r pr r pr r pr r pr
HOP 0.148 .162 0.233 .231 0.268
*
.249
*
0.069 –
AS 0.015 .014 0.292
*
.291
*
0.041 .042 0.033 –
SS 0.000 .012 0.089 .086 0.042 .022 0.049 –
IMP 0.068 .07 0.006 0 0.398
*
.403
*
0.260
*
*
p< .01 (one-tailed test).
4A. Hudson et al. / Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2014) xxx–xxx
Please cite this article in press as: Hudson, A., et al. Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents involved in the child welfare
system. Personality and Individual Differences (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
welfare system may be less driven to drink for internal positive
rewards, explaining why associations between externalizing per-
sonality factors (SS and IMP) and enhancement motives were not
observed. More precisely, the life circumstances of these youth
(e.g., violence, disrupted families, ongoing trauma symptoms)
may promote the activation of negative reinforcement drinking
patterns in susceptible individuals (i.e., youth high in HOP, AS, or
IMP). Indeed, recent work with other at-risk samples (Aboriginal
youth) has also found that sensation seeking is not predictive of
enhancement motives for drinking (O’Connor et al., 2012). In con-
trast, circumstances of youth from the general population (e.g.,
university partying contexts) might encourage activation of posi-
tive reinforcement drinking patterns in those high in SS and IMP.
Finally, a failure to observe a relation between SS and enhance-
ment motives raises questions about which factors mediate previ-
ously-observed associations between SS and alcohol outcomes in
youth receiving child welfare services (Stewart et al., 2011). It is
possible that SS leads to alcohol misuse by promoting deviant peer
affiliations and modeling of problematic drinking (Urberg, Luo,
Pilgrim, & Degirmencioglu, 2003), rather than by encouraging risky
drinking motives. Future work will need to explore such
possibilities.
There were certain limitations to this study. For one, partici-
pants were recruited solely through Ontario CAS services and thus
results may not generalize to at-risk youth in other settings. Also,
participants included anyone who drank in the past twelve
months. Therefore, a range of drinking behaviors (drinking occa-
sionally to drinking nearly every day) was included, but not con-
trolled for. In addition, motives and personality dimensions were
assessed by participant self-report and youth may have been
biased in their responses. Future studies should include supple-
mentary measures, such as parent, guardian, or peer reports.
Finally, we did not include drinking outcomes in this study. There-
fore, a noteworthy avenue for future research involves determining
how personality factors and drinking motives predict actual drink-
ing outcomes in at-risk youth. In theory, drinking motives may
mediate the relation between personality and alcohol use and
abuse.
Despite these limitations, the present findings extend previous
research on personality risk and drinking motives to high-risk ado-
lescents in child welfare services. Our results corroborated prior
empirical (Comeau et al., 2001; Woicik et al., 2009) and theoretical
work (Pihl & Peterson, 1995) on links between personality and rea-
sons for alcohol use, although associations of personality risk fac-
tors with negative reinforcement motives were more prominent.
These findings have clinical relevance, as they provide insight into
types of targeted treatments that are appropriate for at-risk youth.
That is, recent interventions for alcohol misuse focus on personal-
ity and motivational factors that underlie drinking problems (see
Stewart et al., 2005). Our findings indicate that clinicians should
not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach when administering these
types of treatments. Rather, it is necessary to consider patients’
general life circumstances when matching treatments to personal-
ity and drinking motives profiles. Additionally, this work suggests
that mental health screening for child welfare-involved youth
might do well to pay attention to the motives for risk behavior,
rather than focusing only on static questions about mental health
symptoms or substance use. Finally, the observed factor structure
of the DMQ-R and the meaningful correlations between DMQ-R
factors and personality factors speak to the utility of this measure
and associated theory (Cooper, 1994) in studying the reasons for
drinking of at-risk youth in the child welfare system. In summary,
then, the current work makes important contributions by support-
ing prior research, providing new information to clinicians that
may be helpful in targeted treatments, and validating a measure
of drinking motives for use in a novel population.
Acknowledgements
We thank the MAP (Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathways)
Longitudinal Study Research Team (Principal Investigator: Chris-
tine Wekerle; Co-investigators (in alphabetical order) Michael Boy-
le, McMaster University; Deborah Goodman, University of Toronto/
Children’s Aid; Bruce Leslie/Children’s Aid; Eman Leung, University
of Toronto, Harriet MacMillan, McMaster University; Brenda
Moody/Children’s Aid; Lil Tonmyr, Public Health Agency of Canada;
Nico Trocmé, McGill University; Randall Waechter, St. George’s
University, Anne- Marie Wall, York University (deceased). We
thank our collaborators at the Ontario Association of Children’s
Aid Societies, Child Welfare League of Canada, and the First Nations
Child and Family Caring Society. We thank the youth participants,
MAP advisory board and community agencies, and the MAP
research support staff, especially Maria Chen and Ronald Chung.
The MAP Longitudinal Study is funded by the Canadian Institutes
of Health Research (CIHR; No. VGH63212; No. 74547), Institute
of Gender and Health (IGH), the Provincial Centre of Excellence
in Child and Youth Mental Health at the Children’s Hospital of East-
ern Ontario (No. 341), and the Ontario Ministry of Children and
Youth Services (No. 124). Dr. Wekerle’s work was supported by a
mid-career award from CIHR IGH and the Ontario Women’s Health
Council (No. 100079), and an Interchange Canada Assignment to
the Public Health Agency of Canada.
References
Abramson, L. Y., Metalsky, G. I., & Alloy, L. B. (1989). Hopelessness depression: A
theory-based subtype of depression. Psychological Review, 96, 358–372.
Comeau, N., Stewart, S. H., & Loba, P. (2001). The relations of trait anxiety, anxiety
sensitivity, and sensation seeking to adolescents’ motivations for alcohol,
cigarette, and marijuana use. Addictive Behaviors, 26, 803–825.
Conrod, P. J., Pihl, R. O., Stewart, S. H., & Dongier, M. (2000). Validation of a system of
classifying female substance abusers based on personality and motivational risk
factors for substance abuse. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 14, 243–256.
Conrod, P. J., Stewart, S. H., Comeau, M. N., & Maclean, A. M. (2006). Efficacy of
cognitive-behavioral interventions targeting personality risk factors for
youth alcohol misuse. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 35,
550–563.
Cooper, M. L. (1994). Motivations for alcohol use among adolescents: Development
and validation of a four factor model. Psychological Assessment, 6, 117–128.
Dawe, S., & Loxton, N. J. (2004). The role of impulsivity in the development of
substance use and eating disorders. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 28,
343–351.
Grant, V. V., Stewart, S. H., O’Connor, R. M., Blackwell, E., & Conrod, P. J. (2007).
Psychometric evaluation of the five-factor Modified Drinking Motives
Questionnaire-Revised in undergraduates. Addictive Behaviours, 32, 2611–2631.
Hamburger, M. E., Leeb, R. T., & Swahn, M. H. (2008). Child maltreatment and early
alcohol use among high-risk adolescents. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs,
69, 291–295.
Krank, M., Stewart, S. H., O’Connor, R., Woicik, P. B., Wall, A.-M., & Conrod, P. J.
(2010). Structural, concurrent, and predictive validity of the Substance Use Risk
Profile Scale in early adolescence. Addictive Behaviors, 36, 37–46.
Kuntsche, E. N., Knibbe, R. A., Gmel, G., & Engels, R. (2006). Replication and
validation of the Drinking Motive Questionnaire Revised (DMQ-R, Cooper,
1994) among adolescents in Switzerland. European Addiction Research, 12,
161–168.
Littlefield, A. K., Sher, K. J., & Wood, P. K. (2009). Is ‘‘maturing out’’ of problematic
alcohol involvement related to personality change? Journal of Abnormal
Psychology, 118 (pp. 360–274).
Littlefield, A. K., Sher, K. J., & Wood, P. K. (2010). Do changes in drinking motives
mediate the relation between personality change and ‘‘maturing out’’ of
problem drinking? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119, 93–105.
Mushquash, C. J., Stewart, S. H., Comeau, N., & McGrath, P. J. (2008). The structure of
drinking motives in First Nations adolescents in Nova Scotia. American Indian
and Alaska Native Mental Health Research: The Journal of the National Center, 15,
33–52.
O’Connor, R. M., Stewart, S. H., Comeau, N., & Collins, P. (2012, August). Drinking
motives in Canadian Aboriginal youth: Testing the factor structure and an
integrated personality model of drinking risk. Presented at the symposium on
‘‘Young people’s drinking motives in cultural, environmental and personality
perspective and in prevention’’ (Chair: Emmanuel Kuntsche) at the 13th
Biennial conference of the European Association for Research on Adolescence
(EARA), Island of Spetses, Greece.
Pihl, R. O., & Peterson, J. B. (1995). Alcoholism: The role of different motivational
systems. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 20, 372–396.
A. Hudson et al. / Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2014) xxx–xxx 5
Please cite this article in press as: Hudson, A., et al. Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents involved in the child welfare
system. Personality and Individual Differences (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
Rehm, J., Monga, N., Adlaf, E., Taylor, B., Bondy, S. J., & Fallu, J.-S. (2005). School
matters: Drinking dimensions and their effects on alcohol-related problems
among Ontario secondary school students. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 40, 569–574.
Reiss, S., Peterson, R. A., Gursky, D. M., & McNally, R. J. (1986). Anxiety sensitivity,
anxiety frequency, and the prediction of fearfulness. Behaviour Research and
Therapy, 24, 1–8.
Stevens, S., Gerlach, A. L., Cludius, B., Silkens, A., Craske, M. G., & Hermann, C. (2011).
Heartbeat perception in social anxiety before and during speech anticipation.
Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49, 138–143.
Stewart, S. H., Conrod, P. J., Marlatt, G. A., Comeau, M. N., Thush, C., & Krank, M.
(2005). New developments in prevention and early intervention for alcohol
abuse in youths. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 29, 278–286.
Stewart, S. H., & Devine, H. (2000). Relations between personality and drinking
motives in young adults. Personality and Individual Differences, 29, 495–511.
Stewart, S. H., & Kushner, M. G. (2001). Introduction to the special issue on ‘Anxiety
sensitivity and addictive behaviours’. Addictive Behaviors, 26, 775–785.
Stewart, S. H., Peterson, J. B., & Pihl, R. O. (1995). Anxiety sensitivity and self-
reported alcohol consumption rates in university women. Journal of Anxiety
Disorders, 9, 283–292.
Stewart, S. H., McGonnell, M., Wekerle, C., & Adlaf, E. (2011). Associations of
personality with alcohol use behaviour and alcohol problems in adolescents
receiving child welfare services. International Journal of Mental Health and
Addiction, 9, 492–506.
Thompson, B. (2004). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: Understanding
concepts and applications. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Thurstone, L. L. (1947). Multiple factor analysis. Chicago: The University of Chicago
Press.
Tucker, J. S., Orlando, M., & Ellickson, P. L. (2003). Patterns and correlates of binge
drinking trajectories from early adolescence to young adulthood. Health
Psychology, 22, 79–87.
Urberg, K. A., Luo, Q., Pilgrim, C., & Degirmencioglu, S. M. (2003). A two-stage model
of peer influence in adolescent substance use: Individual and relationship-
specific differences in susceptibility to influence. Addictive Behaviors, 28,
1243–1256.
Wekerle, C., Leung, E., MacMillan, H. L., Boyd, M., Trocmé, N., & Waechter, R. (2009).
The contribution of childhood emotional abuse to teen dating violence among
child protective services-involved youth. Child Abuse and Neglect, 33, 45–58.
Wilsnack, R. W., Vogeltanz, N. D., Wilsnack, S. C., & Harris, T. R. (2000). Gender
differences in alcohol consumption and adverse drinking consequences: Cross-
cultural patterns. Addiction, 95, 251–265.
Woicik, P. A., Conrod, P. J., Stewart, S. H., & Pihl, R. O. (2009). The Substance Use Risk
Profile Scale: A scale measuring traits linked to reinforcement-specific
substance use profiles. Addictive Behaviors, 34, 1042–1055.
Zuckerman, M. (1994). Behavioral expressions and biosocial bases of sensation seeking.
New York: Cambridge University Press.
6A. Hudson et al. / Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2014) xxx–xxx
Please cite this article in press as: Hudson, A., et al. Associations between personality and drinking motives in adolescents involved in the child welfare
system. Personality and Individual Differences (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.12.008
Project
A male youth health initiative to end a cycle of violence for males in the challenging context of childhood sexual violence victimization, to shine a light on this neglected area in research, to se…" [more]
Project
We aimed to provide a more detailed account of links between CSA and alcohol problems in youth in the child welfare system by exploring potential emotion-focused mechanisms. In light of different r…" [more]
Article
    Specific personality dimensions may increase susceptibility to alcohol misuse by encouraging motives for drinking that are associated with risky alcohol use. In the current study, we examined associations between personality risk factors (hopelessness (HOP), anxiety sensitivity (AS), sensation seeking (SS), and impulsivity (IMP)) and drinking motives (coping, conformity, enhancement, and... [Show full abstract]
    Article
      Four specific personality factors have been theorized to put adolescents at risk for alcohol abuse: hopelessness (HOP), anxiety sensitivity (AS), sensation seeking (SS), and impulsivity (IMP). We examined relations of these personality factors to various alcohol-related indices in a sample at high risk for alcohol problems—specifically, a child welfare sample. Adolescents (n = 197; mean... [Show full abstract]
      Article
        Adolescents involved with child welfare are at particular risk for the development of alcohol problems due to their histories of child maltreatment. Based on an emotion dysregulation-maladaptive coping model of alcohol problems, the current study explored whether drinking to cope with negative affect (coping motives) moderated the relationship between emotional distress (i.e., anxiety and... [Show full abstract]
        Article
          This paper details a four-stage methodology for developing early alcohol interventions for at-risk Aboriginal youth. Stage 1 was an integrative approach to Aboriginal education that upholds Aboriginal traditional wisdom supporting respectful relationships to the Creator, to the land and to each other. Stage 2 used quantitative methods to investigate associations between personality risk... [Show full abstract]
          Discover more