Category: Addictive Behaviors

PS15- #A17 - Behavioral Economic Indices and Their Relationship to Alcohol Consumption, Motives, and Impulsivity: A Structural Equation Model

Sunday, Nov 19
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Addictive Behaviors | Behavioral Economics | Motivation

College students are a population that has been identified as high risk for a number of negative consequences even when compared to same age non-college peers (Hingson & White, 2012; Mallett et al., 2013; Read, Kahler, Strong, & Colder, 2006). Two factors that have shown robust relationships with college student drinking are motives for use and impulsivity; however a comprehensive model linking these factors has yet to be identified (Kuntsche et al., 2005; Madden & Bickel. 2010). Behavioral economics provides a framework for quantifying behavioral allocation and has shown strong correlational and predictive relationships with the aforementioned factors (Bickel et al., 2014). This current study used latent variable modeling to analyze a proposed structural equation model examining how the relationship between five common behavioral economic indices as well as impulsivity with alcohol consumption may be mediated by motives within a college student population


Data was collected from 844 participants (77.7% female, Mage: 19.3, 90.5% White/Non-Hispanic, 52.1% Greek affiliated) who endorsed having ever consumed an alcoholic beverage.   Participants were assessed for typical and maximum weekly drinking (DDQ-r), motivations for use (DMQ-R), state/trait impulsivity (BIS), and indices of demand were assessed using a hypothetical purchasing task. Pearson correlations were calculated between all variables and SEM examined whether alcohol motives mediate the relationship between behavioral economic measures of demand and impulsivity to alcohol consumption.


Results indicate overall model fit was mixed and several interesting indirect paths emerged (χ2(536) = 3508.503, pRMSEA=0.082,90%CI[0.079, 0.084]; CFI=0.87; SRMR=0.074). Overall, impulsivity, elasticity, breakpoint, and intensity differentially predicted alcohol motives, and alcohol consumption was only predicted by four of the five motives examined. Intensity and impulsivity were related to all four motives that related to alcohol consumption. Breakpoint was positively related to both social and enhancement motives, and enhancement motives also included elasticity as a predictor. Overall, this study broadens the existing literature by providing the start of an integrative framework that makes use of behavioral economics, impulsivity and motives for understanding college student drinking.


            Findings from this study demonstrated previously unobserved correlative relationships between behavioral economics and motives, providing support for the interrelation of these variables. Indirect effects testing indicated evidence of indirect pathways between several of the behavioral economic variables and impulsivity to alcohol consumption. While studies exist that have examined parts of this model (Yurasek, et al., 2011), no study to date has looked at how each of these components coalesce within a single model. The current study provides evidence for the necessity of further research in to this complex phenomenon to help elucidate both the relationships between behavioral economics, motives, impulsivity, and alcohol consumption as well as the implications of additional antecedent factors. 

Bryan Messina

Graduate Student
Auburn University
Albuquerque, New Mexico