Testing affect regulation models of drinking prior to and after drinking initiation using ecological momentary assessment.

Jimikaye B. Courtney, Michael A. Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Affect regulation models of drinking state that affect motivates and reinforces drinking. Few studies have been able to elucidate the timing of these associations in natural settings. We tested positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) as predictors of drinking behavior, both prior to and during drinking episodes, and whether drinking predicted changes in affect during episodes. Method: Two hundred twenty-two regularly drinking young adults (21–29 years, 84% undergraduates), completed an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol for five consecutive 24-hr periods stretching across 6 days (Wednesday–Monday). Participants provided PA and NA reports three times daily and every half hour during drinking episodes. Alcohol consumption reports were provided each morning and every half hour during drinking episodes. Results: Multi-level models showed that greater pre-drinking PA predicted higher odds of drinking, but not number of drinks consumed. Pre-drinking NA did not predict same day odds of drinking or drinks consumed. Episode-level results revealed different associations for PA and NA with drinking. Current PA did not predict drinks consumed over the next half hour; however, increased drinking was associated with greater increases in PA over the next half hour. Higher NA predicted fewer drinks consumed in the next half hour and higher odds of the end of a drinking episode; however, increased drinking was not associated with changes in NA. Conclusions: PA increased following drinking during episodes. Our results suggest that a focus on PA prior to episodes and a focus on NA during episodes may interrupt processes leading to heavy drinking, and may therefore aid prevention efforts. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved) Public Health Significance Statement—This study indicates that low negative affect may foreshadow continued drink consumption during a drinking episode, and that drinking enhances positive affect during the next half hour within a single drinking episode. Additionally, this study highlights that pre-drinking positive affect may be a signal for drinking onset later the same day, which could inform the development of interventions targeting drinking in young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-608
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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