Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Test and Study Worry and Emotionality in the Prediction of College Students' Reasons for Drinking: An Exploratory Investigation

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Test and Study Worry and Emotionality in the Prediction of College Students' Reasons for Drinking: An Exploratory Investigation

Article excerpt


Educational environments can place an exorbitant strain on the psychological well-being of students, and oftentimes students resort to substance use as a means to escape the stress of performance expectations. This study explored the influence of test and study worry and emotionality on students' reported reasons for consuming alcohol. The Reasons for Drinking Scale (RFD; Cronin, 1997) and Test and Study Attitudes Inventory (TSAI; Spielberger & Lunsford, 2001) were used to assess student reported reasons for consumption and test and study worry and emotionality, respectively. Results indicated that students who experienced test and study related worry and emotionality reported drinking for tension reduction more so than for social camaraderie or mood enhancement. Further, women reported that mood enhancement and tension reduction were less likely to be reasons why they consume alcohol. These findings suggest that strategies to reduce test and study anxiety may also decrease alcohol consumption related to tension reduction.

KEYWORDS: Drinking Behavior, Alcohol, Student Drinking, Worry, Emotionality, College Students, Test Anxiety, Test Performance


Alcohol use among college students is a mounting concern, and myriad problems can arise from frequent and excessive alcohol consumption including sexual promiscuity or assault, decrements in academic grade point average and possible academic suspension or expulsion, incursions with authorities and possible arrest, and even physical disability or death (Camatta & Nagoshi, 1995; Park, 2004). Although heavy drinkers often consume alcohol to become inebriated, the vast majority of college students drink for a variety of other reasons, both positive and negative. Park (2004) recently reported that although students seem to understand the negative consequences of drinking prior to consumption, they often engage in the behavior because of the frequent positive benefits of consuming alcohol. Further, she noted that increased consumption, although linked to more serious negative effects of use, was also reportedly linked to much higher expectations of extremely positive consequences of drinking including meeting new friends, celebrating, relieving stress, increasing social lubrication, and having romantic encounters. Similarly, Yokoyama, Nishikitani, and Araki (1999) reported that students frequently engage in drinking for two predominant reasons, either to forget a bad mood and escape difficult life circumstances or to increase sociability with peers and members of the same or opposite sex. Students less often, according to these authors, engaged in drinking to experience a heightened sensation or because of perceived peer pressure.

The Influence of the Self-Medication Hypothesis on Consumption

One hypothesized reason for the insurgence of student drinking is the reduction of psychological symptoms. Novak, Burgess, Clark, Zvolensky, and Brown (2003) found that sensitivity to anxiety was not related directly to the amount of alcohol consumed but was related to students' motivations for engaging in substance using behavior, with men more likely to consume alcohol for tension reduction purposes than women. Swendsen, Tennen, Carney, Affleck, Willard, and Hromi (2000) used the experience sampling method to link nervous behavior earlier in the day to increases in alcohol consumption later in the day and again found that men were more likely to assuage anxiety with alcohol than were women. The phenomenon of attempting to reduce psychological symptomatology through substance use is often referred to as the "self-medication hypothesis." Proponents of the self-medication hypothesis have argued that individuals seek to reduce psychological symptoms with excessive substance consumption, a coping mechanism that allows these individuals to function in the face of perceived adversity. This can be especially true in the case of anxiety symptoms, as those who suffer from anxiety disorders often report drinking excessive quantities of alcohol because of the life stressors they experience. …

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