The Relationship between Emotional Instability and Risk of Alcohol Abuse Among Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Predisposition to Engage in Risky Behavior, Grigore IONAŞCU, Aurelia GLĂVAN, Viorel ROBU


There is growing evidence that alcohol abuse among adolescents is a major public health concern. Understanding the risk factors associated with adolescent alcohol misuse is crucial for the development of prevention programs. The aim of our study was to examine whether general attitudes toward health risk behaviors (i.e., predisposition to engage in risky behaviors) moderate the association between emotional instability (neuroticism as a stable personality factor) and adolescent alcohol abuse. A population-based sample of 688 Romanian adolescents completed several standardized instruments, including a measure of current risk of alcohol abuse, the Neuroticism scale from Big Five Inventory (John, Donahue & Kentle, 1991), and a subscale (Health/Safety) from the Risk Behaviors Scale (Weber, Blais & Betz, 2002). The risk of alcohol abuse was positively associated with both emotional instability (n = 673; r = 0.345; p < 0.001) and predisposition to engage in risky behaviors (n = 688; r = 0.424; p < 0.001). A positive relationship was also found between emotional instability and predisposition to engage in risky behaviors (n = 673; r = 0.129; p = 0.001). Hierarchical linear multiple regression analysis provided support for the moderation relationship. In summary, predisposition to engage in risky behaviors may act as an amplifying factor by increasing the risk associated with emotional instability. Some practical implications for preventive interventions are discussed.

Keywords: Adolescent; alcohol abuse; emotional instability; moderating effect; predisposition to engage in risky behaviors