The daily association between affect and alcohol use: A meta-analysis of individual participant data


Influential psychological theories hypothesize that people consume alcohol in response to the experience of both negative and positive emotions. Despite two decades of daily diary and ecological momentary assessment research, it remains unclear whether people consume more alcohol on days they experience higher negative and positive affects in everyday life. In this preregistered meta-analysis, we synthesized the evidence for these daily associations between affect and alcohol use. We included individual participant data from 69 studies (N = 12,394), which used daily and momentary surveys to assess the affect and the number of alcoholic drinks consumed. Results indicate that people are not more likely to drink on days they experience high negative affect but are more likely to drink and drink heavily on days high in positive affect. People self-reporting a motivational tendency to drink-to-cope and drink-to-enhance consumed more alcohol but not on days they experienced higher negative and positive affects. Results were robust across different operationalizations of affect, study designs, study populations, and individual characteristics. These findings challenge the long-held belief that people drink more alcohol following increase in negative affect. Integrating these findings under different theoretical models and limitations of this field of research, we collectively propose an agenda for future research to explore open questions surrounding affect and alcohol use.

In Psychological Bulletin
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Jonas Dora
Jonas Dora

Dr. Jonas Dora is a postdoc at the University of Washington.