Goal orientation and alcohol use during the transition to college

Grant, Allison M., author
Harman, Jennifer, advisor
Prince, Mark, committee member
Graham, Dan, committee member
Riggs, Nate, committee member
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Alcohol use peaks in early adulthood and rates are significantly higher among college students than their non-college attending peers. Negative alcohol-related outcomes are common among college drinkers. This longitudinal study aimed to reduce negative alcohol-related outcomes, indirectly, by promoting the salience of first-year students' academic goals. Students were randomly assigned to set academic goals or no goals (control) at the start of the fall 2014 semester. Alcohol-related cognitions, past-month alcohol use, negative consequences of drinking, self-control, goal importance, and goal commitment were measured at baseline. Students revisited their goals and completed the alcohol measures in three follow-up surveys. The Motivational Model of Alcohol Use provided structure for testing hypotheses that setting academic goals would be associated with reduced negative alcohol-related outcomes via the effect of condition on drinking motives (H1), self-control would moderate the associations between goal condition, alcohol-related cognitions, and negative alcohol-related outcomes (H2), and goal covariates would moderate the association between self-control, alcohol-related cognitions, and negative alcohol-related outcomes (H3). Longitudinal path models were estimated in Mplus using Bayesian methods. All models fit the data well, but provided limited support for the hypotheses. Setting academic goals did not influence negative alcohol-related outcomes, indirectly, however a meaningful and negative direct effect on negative alcohol-related outcomes was found. Self-control did not moderate the association between goal condition and negative alcohol-related outcomes. Finally, goal importance did not moderate the association between self-control and negative outcomes via drinking motives. Setting academic goals represents a promising, but complex tool for preventing college alcohol misuse.
2021 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.
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