Alcohol Use and Emerging Adult Development: a Latent Profile Analysis of Community Drinkers

  • Joyce Y. ZhuEmail author
  • Abby L. Goldstein
  • Sean P. Mackinnon
  • Sherry H. Stewart
Original Article


The purpose of the current study was to assess whether individuals differ in their experiences of emerging adulthood (EA) and associations with distinct patterns of alcohol use. To differentiate between EA drinking patterns, 153 regular community drinkers (ages 18–24 years; M = 20.9, SD = 1.9; 66.0% women; 53.6% Caucasian; 68.0% students) completed the Inventory of Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA) and measures of alcohol use, drinking motives, and drinking consequences. Latent profile analysis revealed two profiles: EA-consistent (90%) had elevated scores on the five typical IDEA subscales; non-exploring EA (10%) had low scores on four dimensions. Non-exploring EA consistently demonstrated significantly lower scores on all alcohol variables at baseline and higher drinking volume, consequences, and social motives 1 year later. Findings indicate distinct profiles of EA development are associated with different patterns of alcohol use; how individuals experience this time of life may influence involvement in high-risk drinking during EA.


Emerging adult development Alcohol use Alcohol problems Drinking motives Latent profile analysis 



This research was supported by a grant from the Foundation for Alcohol Research (ABMRF) awarded to Abby L. Goldstein, Sherry Stewart, and Sean Mackinnon and an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation to Dr. Goldstein. Dr. Goldstein is supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the Psychology of Emerging Adulthood and Dr. Stewart is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Addictions and Mental Health. Joyce Zhu was supported by a Master’s Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The study was reviewed and the protocol approved by Research Ethics Board at the University of Toronto.

Informed Consent

All participants provided informed consent and participation was voluntary.

Conflict of Interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11469_2018_39_MOESM1_ESM.docx (313 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 313 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Psychology & Human Development, OISEUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and Department of PsychiatryDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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