This study tested associations between positive and negative affect and heavy drinking in 734 college students who completed daily diaries in 14-day bursts once per semester over 7 semesters (98 days per person). Three-level multilevel models tested whether affect and heavy drinking were linked across days, semesters, and persons. Higher daily, between-semester, and between-person positive affect were each associated with greater odds of heavy drinking on weekdays and on weekend days. A significant interaction with semester in college showed that the association between daily positive affect and heavy drinking on weekend days became stronger over time. That is, heavy drinking on a weekend day with higher positive affect was more likely in later years of college (OR = 2.93, Fall of 4th year), compared to earlier in college (OR = 1.80, Fall of 1st year). A similar interaction was found for between-semester positive affect and heavy drinking on weekdays. Higher daily negative affect was associated with a greater odds of heavy drinking on weekdays only for students who first began drinking in 7th grade or earlier (OR = 2.36). Results of this study highlight the importance of varied time spans in studying the etiology, consequences, and prevention of heavy drinking. Harm-reduction strategies that target positive affect-related drinking by encouraging protective behaviors during celebratory events may become increasingly important as students transition to later years of college.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Between-person, college, daily diary, heavy drinking, within-person
Persistent URL
Journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors
Howard, A, Patrick, M.E. (Megan E.), & Maggs, J.L. (Jennifer L.). (2015). College Student Affect and Heavy Drinking: Variable Associations Across Days, Semesters, and People. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29(2), 430–443. doi:10.1037/adb0000023