The relationship between impulsivity, prosocial risk taking and substance use in adolescents
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Objective: Participation in prosocial risk taking activities and a healthy family environment have been thought to serve as protective factors, while a personality characterized by impulsivity, has been found to convey risk, for adolescent substance use. Recent conceptualizations of impulsivity propose reward drive and rash impulsivity, are differentially associated with substance use. This study tested a model predicting participation in prosocial risk taking activities (extreme activities and performance activities) would moderate the relationship between rash impulsivity, reward drive, and substance use. A healthy family environment was expected to serve as a protective factor. Method: To investigate these relationships, survey data from a sample of 1060 Grade 8 students was analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM). Results: As expected, rash impulsivity was found to have a significant, positive association with substance use in females, and a similar non-significant trend was found for males. Unexpectedly, participation in extreme activities was actually associated with greater substance use in males and females. Furthermore, reward drive was indirectly associated with substance use through increased participation in extreme activities. Testing for moderation effects revealed neither extreme nor performance activities modulated the effect of impulsivity on substance use, for males or females. However, there was a significant interaction suggesting that a positive family environment was associated with lower substance use in girls, but only for those who were engaged in performance activities. Conclusions: Prosocial risk taking does not appear to modulate the effect of rash impulsivity on substance use. In fact, reward drive conveys risk for substance use, indirectly, through participation in extreme activities, which was associated with substance use.
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Developmental Psychology and Ageing
Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology