Drug Abuse Prevention: A Lifecourse Perspective IV

Grants and Contracts Details


Much previous work at the Center has been concerned with the relation between drug and alcohol use/abuse and sensation seeking-a biologically-based need for novel, complex, ambiguous, and emotionally intense stimuli. This work has demonstrated strong links between sensation seeking and substance use and abuse at both animal and human levels, using a variety of methodological approaches. Most importantly, this work has lead to efforts, both within and outside the center, to utilize sensation seeking to design and target interventions aimed at reducing substance use and risky sexual behavior. The projects in the parent grant (Project 3 of the Center) seek to fill certain gaps in our knowledge and to set the groundwork for the next generation oftargeted interventions. The parent grant has four specific aims: Aim 1 is to examine the mechanism of persuasion by which high sensation value messages influence behavior. There are at least two routes to attitude change--central and peripheral. The central route leads to more persistent change that is more strongly coupled to actual behavior. Although it has been hypothesized that high sensation value messages lead to more central processing, this premise has not yet been empirically examined. The degree to which the messages are processed centrally or peripherally has implications for the next design iteration, as centrally processed messages are more resistant to change and more strongly linked to actual behavior. Aim 2 is to examine the ability of alternative activities or stimulating environments to reduce risk-taking among high sensation seekers. In previous Center work, Palmgreen and Donohew used high sensation value materials to target high sensation seekers. Within the programming materials, information on the availability of high sensation activities in the community was offered. The idea behind this intervention was that engaging in high sensation activities would reduce the reinforcing effects of drugs. This idea is also consistent with literature on response competition in drug use. However, the ability of alternative activities or stimulating environments to reduce risk-taking behavior has not been convincingly demonstrated with empirical data. Aim 3 is to examine the specificity of high sensation value messages on sensation seeking. Although several studies have shown that high sensation value PSAs change behavior among high sensation seekers, the specificity ofthis relation is not clear. There are other dimensions of personality that are as strongly related to substance use and other forms of deviance as sensation seeking, including agreeableness-antagonism and conscientiousness. If high sensation value messages do not appeal to these individuals in the same way that they appeal to high sensation seekers, or if these other dimensions interact with sensation seeking to produce different effects, the PSAs are not operating optimally .. Aim 4 is to begin work on identifying/developing PSAs and other messages that specifically target other dimensions of personality also related to drug use, most specifically low agreeableness and low conscientiousness. Although sensation seeking is a potent risk factor for substance use, it is one among several personality risk factors. Although the sensation value of a message determines whether or not individuals high in sensation seeking will attend to the message, sensation value may be less relevant in determining the responses to the messages of individuals high in Antagonism. Research Participation of the Minoritv Candidate Ms. Leslie Toney is currently in her second year as a student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of Kentucky. She began working with Dr. Tamara Brown on child mental health issues, but grew increasingly more interested in the work of Dr. Lynam on substance use. In January of 2004 she approached Dr. Lynam about joining his research group. Dr. Lynam agreed and she has been a part of the research group since that time. She is currently working on her master's thesis under the supervision of Dr. Lynam. They are examining the validity of retrospective reports of substance use on a Life History Calendar in a community sample followed longitudinally and funded previously under the Center. The project involves examining the factors that influence the validity ofthe reports. The factors to be examined include the time interval, the reporting status of the individual, and various individual difference variables including sensation seeking. Ms. Toney is gaining valuable experience working with longitudinal data. In the course of weekly lab meetings, however, Ms. Toney has expressed interest in participating in the type of research being conducted in the current grant-quasi-experimental studies of personality, substance use, and prevention. It is towards facilitating this interest that this supplement is sought. Through several discussions, Ms. Toney and Dr. Lynam have outlined several additional studies that she will conduct under this supplement. All involve examining the relation of Agreeableness-Antagonism to substance use through a laboratory paradigm. Much of the previous work at the Center has been concerned with the relation between drug and alcohol use and abuse and sensation seeking-a biologically-based need for novel, complex, ambiguous, and emotionally intense stimuli (Zuckerman, 1979; 1994). There is good reason for this focus. Sensation seeking is related; to earlier and heavier use of a variety of licit and illicit drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana (e.g., Pederson, 1991; Segal, Huba, & Singer, 1980; Zuckerman, 1979; 1994). These relations are present in both adults and adolescents and both concurrently and
Effective start/end date9/30/928/31/05


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse


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