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Personality traits and mental health as predictors of alcohol inebriation among young adolescents: gender-specific patterns

Conference contribution
Authors Karin Boson
Peter Wennberg
Claudia Fahlke
Kristina Berglund
Published in European Association for Research on Adolescence. Ghent, Belgium.
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology


Objective: Our main aim was to explore the links between mental health, personality and alcohol use in early adolescence. For this purpose, a two-dimensional model of mental health was used consisting a problem dimension (emotional and behavioral) and a well-being dimension. We wanted to know which dimension of mental health that were most related to early alcohol drinking and inebriation, the lack of well-being or the presence of emotional and behavioral problems. Further, the study examined if personality factors (such as temperament and character) possibly moderate the effect between mental health and alcohol use. If so, how and to which degree? The association between mental health and personality was mapped to provide a better understanding of the health and personality structure and potential measurement variances across gender. Method: With self-reported data from 777 adolescents, aged 13-15 years, evenly distributed between genders, from the Longitudinal Research on Development In Adolescence (LoRDIA) program, we used the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Mental Health Continuum Short Form (MHC-SF) and Junior Temperament and Character Inventory (JTCI) to predict alcohol use and inebriation through logistic regression analyses . Separated gender analyses were performed throughout the study to reveal gender specific patterns between mental health variables, personality dimensions and alcohol use in early adolescence. Results: Externalizing problems increased the risk of early alcohol use and inebriation for both genders and internalizing problems decreased the risk among boys. Well-being could not effectively predict alcohol use nor inebriation. Novelty Seeking and Reward Dependence increased the risk of alcohol use and Harm Avoidance decreased the risk of inebriation among girls. Self-Directedness among girls and Cooperativeness among boys decreased the risk of inebriation. Conclusions: The relation between personality factors and mental health differ between girls and boys already in early adolescence and there are gender specific patterns concerning early alcohol use and inebriation among young adolescents. The combination of having externalizing problems, high Novelty Seeking, high Reward Dependence with low Harm Avoidance and low Self-directedness might be a risk profile specifically among girls as well as low internalizing problems, high externalizing problems and low Cooperativeness among boys. Implications: These risk profiles provide professionals with valuable information about gender specific considerations when developing and conducting preventative interventions targeting risk and resilience factors for early alcohol drinking among young adolescents.

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