Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

William Meil

Second Advisor

David LaPorte

Third Advisor

John Mills

Abstract

This study examined relationships among executive function (EF), mindfulness, emotional control, impulsivity, and alcohol use in a college sample. Students (N=155) were administered objective performance measures in three theoretical domains of executive function. These included Switching (measured by the Wisconsin Card Sort Test and Iowa Gambling Task), Inhibition (measured by the Stroop Color-word Test, the Go/No-Go task and the Continuous Performance Task), and Updating (measured by the N-Back task and Digit Span task). Participants also completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), Emotion Response Questionnaire (ERQ), UPPS-P, Daily Drinking Questionnaire (DDQ-R), and Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index (RAPI).

It was predicted that better EF performance, higher levels of trait mindfulness, adaptive emotional responding, and less impulsivity would correspond with lower levels of alcohol consumption on the DDQ-R and lower levels of alcohol related problems on the RAPI. These hypotheses were partially supported. Sex, age, and the Negative Urgency and Premeditation subscales of the UPPSP predicted alcohol use. The Acting with Awareness subscale of the FFMQ and the Negative Urgency and Premeditation subscales of the UPPSP predicted alcohol related problems. Mindfulness, EF, and emotional responding did not significantly predicted overall alcohol use, diminishing their utility as assessment strategies for predicting general alcohol use. However, a reciprocal relationship between the Negative Urgency and lack of Premeditation facets of impulsivity and alcohol use and abuse was demonstrated. The use of healthy young adults in this study showed that the connection between impulsivity and alcohol abuse is not confined to those meeting clinical criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence.

Hypotheses that higher mindfulness scores would predict better adaptive emotional responding and less impulsivity were partially supported. Results showed higher trait mindfulness was predictive of less emotional suppression, but mindfulness was not predictive of emotion-based decision making or adaptive emotional reappraisal. The five mindfulness facets predicted UPPS-P Negative Urgency and UPPS-P positive urgency scores, but not UPPS-P Premeditation, Perseverance, or Sensation Seeking scores. It was also predicted that better performance on EF measures would correspond with higher levels of trait mindfulness, more adaptive emotional responding on the ERQ and better emotion-based decision making on the IGT. These hypotheses were not supported. No EF domains were significantly related to mindfulness, emotional responding, and alcohol use of alcohol related problems.

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