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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sensation seeking moderates the relationship between alcohol use and risk appraisal Johnson, Season C.

Abstract

Personality traits, such as sensation seeking and impulsivity, have been linked to substance use, as well as risk and benefit appraisal. Risk appraisal has also been inversely related to substance use, and is lower at higher levels of experience (i.e., familiarity) with the substance. This study examines the relationship between alcohol use and perceived risks and benefits, as moderated by sensation seeking, while controlling for impulsivity. Undergraduate students completed online questionnaires examining their perceptions of risks and benefits for several activities as well as their level of engagement in those activities, personality traits (sensation seeking and impulsivity), and measures of substance use. There was an inverse relationship between alcohol use (i.e., familiarity with alcohol) and risk appraisal, and this relationship was moderated by Experience Seeking. Other sensation seeking scales did not show the same relationship. Individuals lower on Experience Seeking showed a stronger inverse relationship between alcohol use and perceived risks compared to benefits. Those higher on Experience Seeking had a nonsignificant relationship between alcohol use and net risk appraisal, indicating that their perception of risks compared to benefits remained relatively constant regardless of their past use of alcohol. This relationship also extended to the use of cannabis, where those lower on Experience Seeking showed a stronger negative relationship between past cannabis use and net risk appraisal of cannabis, compared to those higher on the trait. Likewise, individuals lower on Disinhibition also showed a stronger negative relationship between past cannabis use and net risk appraisal of cannabis, compared to those higher on the trait.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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