Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 925–937 | Cite as

First-Year College Student Affect and Alcohol Use: Paradoxical Within- and Between-Person Associations

  • Lela A. Rankin
  • Jennifer L. Maggs
Original Paper


Based on 10 weekly telephone interviews with first-year college students (N=202; 63% women; M=18.8 years, SD=.4), within- and between-person associations of positive and negative affect with alcohol use were examined. Multi-level models confirmed hypothesized within-person associations between weekly positive affect and alcohol use: Higher positive affect weeks had greater alcohol consumption, more drinking and heavy drinking days in the same week, and less plans to drink the following week. However, between-person, average positive affect did not predict individual differences in alcohol use. The negative affect—alcohol use association was complex: Within-person, higher negative affect was associated with less drinking days but between-person, with more drinking days; lability in negative affect was associated with greater average alcohol use and more drinking and heavy drinking days. Health promotion efforts for late adolescent and emerging adult students are advised to recognize these paradoxical effects (e.g., promoting dry celebratory campus-events, strategies to manage negative mood swings).


Late adolescence Alchohol use Positive and negative affect Multilevel anlyses 



The ULTRA Project data collection and preparation of this manuscript were supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA13763) and Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation to J. Maggs. Portions of the data were presented at the Western Psychological Association annual meeting, Portland, OR, April, 2005 and we awarded a student scholarship travel award based on achieving the top peer review scores.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Doctoral student at the University of Arizona. She expects to receive her PhD in Family Studies and Human Development. Her major research interests are social-psychological factors associated with adolescent health and social development within an ecological framework; social and behavioral methods and statistics. Family Studies and Human DevelopmentUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her PhD in Psychology at the University of Victoria. Research interests include adolescent social development and health; transition to adulthood; risk behaviors; prevention science; research methods; including longitudinal and event-based studies on alcohol use. Human Development and Family StudiesPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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