Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Recent national surveys have demonstrated an increase in alcohol use among adolescents over the past five years (Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 2003; Kann et al., 2000). It is important to understand factors that influence alcohol use in order to aid in the creation of preventative measures due to the many possible negative consequences associated with drinking alcohol (i.e., unwanted sexual activity, delinquency, abuse of other drugs, violence, car accidents, and poor academic performance) (Boyd, Howard, & Zucker, 1995). Two factors that have been studied as possible predictors of adult and adolescent alcohol use are personality and pubertal onset. Specifically, studies have linked the personality factors of Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism and reports of alcohol use in adults and older adolescents (Austin et al., 2003; Gullone & Moore, 2000; Kubicka, Matejcek, Dytrych, & Roth, 2001; Markey, Markey, & Tinsley, 2003; Musgrave-Marquart & Bromley, 1997). Furthermore, studies have also found that the age at which one reaches puberty has been linked to participation in risky behaviors, specifically alcohol use (Felson & Haynie, 2002; Ge, Conger, & Elder, 2001; Graber, Lewinsohn, Seeley, & Brooks-Gunn, 1997; Sonis, Comit, & Blue, 1985; Stice, Presnell, & Bearman, 2001). The current study examined the personality factors of Extraversion, Openness to Experience, and Conscientiousness, pubertal onset, and alcohol usage (underaged drinking and intoxication). One hundred boys in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades and their parents were randomly selected to serve as participants in the study. The boys completed the Self-Rating Scale for Pubertal Development (Carskadon & Acebo, 1993), Adolescent Risk Behavior Questionnaire (Gullone & Moore, 2000), and a revised version of the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992). It was hypothesized the three personality factors of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Openness to Experience would significantly predict the level of alcohol usage in boys. Specifically, lower scores on the Conscientiousness Scale, higher scores on the Extraversion, and higher scores on the Openness scales would be predictors of underaged drinking and intoxication in boys. Second, it was hypothesized that the level of pubertal development would significantly predict of alcohol involvement. More specifically, higher scores on the Pubertal Development Scale would significantly predict underaged drinking and intoxication in boys. Finally, it was expected that scores obtained from the Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Openness scales would interact with scores obtained on the Pubertal Development Scale and significantly predict underaged drinking and intoxication. Standard regressions were conducted to examine the hypotheses. Results of the regression analysis indicated that the overall model (pubertal development) significantly predicted underaged drinking and intoxication, but accounted for only 10% variance in underaged drinking and 13% in intoxication.


Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction