NRSA Fellowship for E. Riley: Intentional Personality Change: Towards Preventing Problem Drinking

Grants and Contracts Details


Young adults engage in alcohol consumption at high rates, a behavior that puts them at risk for a number of dangerous consequences related to their physical and mental health, academic performance, and social well-being. Negative urgency, the tendency to act rashly when distressed, has long been associated with alcohol consumption across a wide range of drinking behaviors, developmental time points, and study designs. Drinking to cope with negative affect very common among college students and is related to higher levels of alcohol consumption and negative consequences to drinking. Negative urgency has been shown to be significantly associated with the drinking to cope motive: thus, urgency may predict alcohol consumption for those individuals and at those times when drinking is in response to extreme negative emotions. Interventions specifically tailored to alter a personality disposition may produce change in that trait. Emotion modulation training has been shown to predict reductions in negative urgency and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI, another behavior that individuals use to cope with distress) in one laboratory study (Weiss et al., 2015). Despite the importance of negative urgency and the negative affect reduction motive in predicting drinking behavior among college students, there have not been any interventions designed to try to reduce drinking by intervening at the basic personality level. The intent of the proposed project is to use a rigorous laboratory design to (1) test the effects of an emotion modulation training on drinking-to-cope behavior (alcohol consumption following the experience of negative affect in the lab) and (2) intentional personality change using an emotion modulation training to reduce levels of negative urgency in a sample of college students with elevated levels of urgency, drinking-to-cope motives, and drinking behavior. Given the transdiagnostic predictive nature of negative urgency, positive findings from the proposed study will highlight the value of a program of research for interventions designed to produce reductions in this high-risk personality trait, which may then reduce risk for problem drinking specifically as well as for other maladaptive, negatively reinforced behaviors. Didactic and experiential training in substance use and intervention research will include (1) regular meetings with sponsors and co-sponsors, (2) coursework covering substance use research and advanced statistics, (3) intensive statistics training program, (4) visiting scholar training with leaders in the field of emotion modulation. A substantial emphasis will be placed on ethical training including (1) a course on ethical research with substance use/abuse, (2) a course based on NIH guidelines for Responsible Conduct of Research, and (3) regular meetings with advisors to discuss ethical issues. This proposal provides extensive training to build a research career devoted to the implementation of novel emotion regulation interventions that reduce high-risk personality traits and produce reductions in drinking behavior in response to negative emotions.
Effective start/end date9/17/179/16/18


  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: $44,044.00


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