Towards an affect intensity regulation hypothesis: Systematic review and meta-analyses of the relationship between affective states and alcohol consumption

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Abstract

While self-medication and positive and negative reinforcement models of alcohol use suggest that there is an association between daily affect and alcohol consumption, findings within the academic literature have been inconsistent. This pre-registered systematic review meta-analytically interrogated the results from studies amongst non-clinical populations that examine the relationship between daily affective states and alcohol consumption volume. PRISMA guided searches of PsychINFO, PsycARTICLES, Science Direct, PubMed, SCOPUS, and JSTOR databases were conducted. When both laboratory and field studies were included, meta-analyses with robust variance estimation yielded 53 eligible studies on negative affect (8355 participants, 127 effect sizes) and 35 studies for positive affect (6384 participants, 50 effect sizes). The significant pooled associations between intra-day affect and alcohol consumption were r = .09, [.03, .14] for negative affect, and r = .17, [.04, .30] for positive affect. A small-to-medium sized effect (d = .275, [.11, .44]) of negative affect on daily alcohol consumption volume was found in laboratory studies (14 studies, 1100 participants). While publication bias was suspected, P-curve analyses suggested that the results were unlikely to be the product of publication bias and p-hacking alone, and selection model analysis revealed no significant differences in results when publication bias was accounted for. For negative affect, using number of drinks as the measure of alcohol consumption was associated with lower effect sizes. For positive affect, the results demonstrated a decline of this observed effect over time. Overall, findings point towards the possibility of developing an affect intensity regulation theory of alcohol use. Conceptualizing the mood-alcohol nexus in terms of affect intensity regulation may afford a more parsimonious explanation of alcohol consumption rather than viewing the behavior as being shaped by either positive or negative affective states.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume17
Issue number1
Early online date31 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Systematic review

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