A Longitudinal Examination of Relations Between Competitive Athletic Participation, Drinking Norms, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking and Binge Drinking Throughout College

Ian A. McNamara, Scott E. King, William R. Corbin, Kim Fromme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: College athletes are a high-risk group for heavy drinking and related risky behaviors and consequences. However, most prior work examining drinking behavior in college athletes has been crosssectional. Drinking norms predict drinking among athletes, but other potential risk factors, including personality traits have received limited attention. Method: Using data from a large sample (n = 2,245) of college students, we examined athletic participation, high-risk personality traits (i.e., impulsivity, sensation seeking), and perceptions of peer drinking behavior (descriptive and injunctive norms) as predictors of binge drinking from prior to college entry through 2 years postcollege. Negative binomial latent growth models were used to examine these predictors of patterns of drinking across the college years. Results: Binge drinking increased through the first 3 years of college before leveling off and decreasing postcollege. Controlling for significant effects of sensation seeking and perceptions of peer attitudes and drinking behaviors, athletic participation at T1 was associated with greater binge drinking at matriculation and greater athletic participation was associated with greater risk across the college years. Normative perceptions and sensation seeking also predicted concurrent drinking in Year 4 of college and impulsivity emerged as an additional predictor. Sensation seeking emerged as a significant predictor of greater postcollege binge drinking. Athletic participation in Year 4 of college indicated no significant risk for greater binge drinking during Year 4 or following graduation. Conclusions: Early participation in competitive athletics was associated with risk for binge drinking, even when accounting for several social and personality factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Addictive Behaviors
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Binge drinking
  • College athletes
  • Drinking norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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