Background: The 21st birthday is associated with more alcohol consumption and negative consequences than any other occasion. The current study investigated how positive urgency, the tendency to act rashly in response to positive emotions, influences 21st birthday drinking and the effectiveness of a single event text message intervention designed to reduce 21st birthday drinking and related negative consequences.
Methods: Participants were 183 undergraduate students (69% female, 86% white) about to turn 21. Participants were randomly assigned to either a text message intervention or control condition. Those in the intervention condition received one text message the day before their 21st birthday that provided personalized normative feedback and one text message on the day of their 21st birthday. Participants reported actual alcohol consumption the day after their 21st birthday celebration.
Results: Hierarchical linear regression found that, after controlling for sex, intervention condition, and planned drinking, positive urgency was associated with greater number of drinks (β = .15, p = .031) and drinking problems (β = .25, p = .001). A moderated-mediation model was significant (B = 0.42, CI95 [.10, .76]): At high levels of positive urgency, the intervention condition was associated with drinking more than planned, which significantly mediated the relationship between intervention and alcohol-related consequences; the mediation was not significant at mean or low levels of positive urgency.
Conclusions: These findings are the first to link positive urgency with 21st birthday drinking and to empirically demonstrate that positive urgency negatively impacts the effectiveness of an intervention aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.
Keywords: 21st birthday; Alcohol; Personalized normative feedback; Positive urgency; Protective behavioral strategies; Text-message.
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