Positive Emotion, Drinking Motivation, and Problematic Drinking: A Case for Cultural Variations

Open Access
Mortazavi, Arezou
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
October 14, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Jose Angel Soto, Thesis Advisor
  • Positive emotion
  • Emotion norms
  • Drinking motivations
  • cultural norms for emotion
  • Alcohol use
  • College students
Emotions have frequently been established as antecedents or correlates of maladaptive substance use. While investigation has begun to illuminate the relationship between emotions and alcohol abuse, the role of positive emotions in alcohol use, as well as how this varies across cultural groups is less understood. The present study aims to investigate how positive emotion states are related to motivations for alcohol use as well as problematic outcomes and how this relationship is moderated by culture in three groups, including two groups with different norms regarding positive emotions (Hispanic/Latino and Asian). A second aim of this project is to investigate how the unique emotional norms of these groups lead to different relationships with alcohol use than those previously observed in past research. In this study, participants completed baseline measures regarding current level of alcohol use, motives for drinking, problems related to drinking, acculturation, self-control, and emotional experience. In the next portion of the study, participants answered questions indicating how much positive, neutral, and negative emotion they experienced that day, and whether they drank that day for a period of 14 days. If they reported drinking, they were asked how much they drank, about their motivations for drinking, and whether they experienced problematic outcomes as a result of their drinking. Results indicated that positive affect predicted drinking for enhancement purposes when measured daily, and revealed an interaction across ethnicities. Enhancement motivations predicted problematic outcomes both over the course of the past year and when measured daily. Drinking volume fully mediated this effect, and this was moderated by ethnicity such that Latinos experienced greater problematic outcomes when drinking equal amounts as Asians and Caucasians for enhancement purposes. These findings may help to explain higher rates of problematic alcohol use in Latinos, and indicate a need for a unique focus of treatment for this group.