Personality Measured in Elementary School Predicts Middle School Addictive Behavior Involvement

Leila Guller, Tamika C.B. Zapolski, Gregory T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Middle school addictive behavior involvement is highly predictive of future dysfunction. We tested whether a set of high-risk personality traits, measured in elementary school, predicted drinking, smoking, and binge eating in middle school. We studied 1,906 children in two waves: Wave 1 was the last year of elementary school and wave 2 was the first year of middle school in the participating schools. In a design controlling for sex, pubertal status, prior engagement in addictive behaviors, and other high-risk personality traits, we found that (a) fifth grade urgency, the tendency to act rashly when emotional, predicted drinking, smoking, and binge eating during sixth grade; and (b) fifth grade low conscientiousness, which reflects a failure to plan ahead or persevere on tasks, predicted drinking and smoking during sixth grade. It appears that high-risk middle school addictive behavior can itself be predicted from individual differences present in elementary school. Implications for future research and prevention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-532
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 11 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIAAA grant R01AA016166 to Gregory T. Smith and NIDA T32DA035200,which supported Leila Guller. None of the authors have any competing interests or financial conflicts.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Addictions
  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Longitudinal
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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