Childhood Drinking and Depressive Symptom Level Predict Harmful Personality Change

Elizabeth N. Riley, Gregory T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Personality traits in children predict numerous life outcomes. Although traits are generally stable, if there is personality change in youth, it could affect subsequent behavior in important ways. We found that the trait of urgency, the tendency to act impulsively when highly emotional, increases for some youth in early adolescence. This increase can be predicted from the behavior of young children: alcohol consumption and depressive symptom level in elementary school children (fifth grade) predicted increases in urgency 18 months later. Urgency, in turn, predicted increases in a wide range of maladaptive behaviors another 30 months later, at the end of the first year of high school. The mechanism by which early drinking behavior and depressive symptoms predict personality is not yet clear and merits future research; notably, the findings are consistent with mechanisms proposed by personality change theory and urgency theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.


  • addictive disorders
  • adolescent development
  • personality
  • substance disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Childhood Drinking and Depressive Symptom Level Predict Harmful Personality Change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this