Reinforcer pathologies: Predicting alcohol related problems in college drinking men and women

Shea M. Lemley, Brent A. Kaplan, Derek D. Reed, Alexandria C. Darden, David P. Jarmolowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background Alcohol use in college is common, and problematic consequences of alcohol may affect college men and women differently. Approaches within behavioral economics have been used to improve our understanding of alcohol use in college students. Methods The current study assessed relations between college students’ delay discounting, demand for alcohol, and alcohol problems as measured by the Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire (YAACQ). In this study, 80 college drinkers completed a monetary choice questionnaire that assessed delay discounting of money, a novel beer choice questionnaire that evaluated delay discounting of beer, and an alcohol purchase task that measured demand for alcohol. Results Behavioral economic measures associated with the reinforcer pathologies model (i.e., demand and discounting) predicted alcohol consequences as measured by the YAACQ. For men, these significant predictor variables included money discounting, beer discounting, and intensity of alcohol demand, whereas for women money discounting and essential value were significant predictors. Conclusions These findings highlight the utility of the reinforcer pathologies approach for the study of alcohol use and the importance of considering gender differences in examining college drinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-66
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Dec 23 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016


  • Alcohol
  • College students
  • Delay discounting
  • Demand
  • Gender differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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