Differentiating between sensation seeking and impulsivity through their mediated relations with alcohol use and problems

Addict Behav. 2007 Oct;32(10):2046-61. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2007.01.015. Epub 2007 Jan 23.


Disinhibition is a strong correlate of alcohol use, yet limited alcohol research has examined the facets of this personality construct. Recent work suggests that sensation seeking and impulsivity show differential relations with alcohol outcomes, indicating unique mechanisms of risks associated with each of these dimensions of disinhibition. The goal of the study was to examine sensation seeking and impulsivity as unique predictors of alcohol use and problems, and to test a broad range of drinking motives as potential mediators of these relations. Self-reported data from college students (N=310) were utilized for the study. Results suggested that sensation seeking and impulsivity were associated with alcohol use and problems through different mediational pathways. There was some evidence for gender moderating these pathways. The findings indicate that alcohol prevention and intervention programs should be tailored to specifically target individuals elevated on impulsivity versus sensation seeking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motivation
  • Personality Inventory