Full Program »
16. The Effects of Perceived Control on Problem Drinking
Perceptions of control considerably influence coping processes. While control over drinking urges has been examined in the context of alcohol problems, prior work has not addressed the impact of generalized rather than domain-specific control on this outcome. The present study utilized longitudinal self-report data from the Midlife in the United States nationally-representative sample of English-speaking non-institutionalized adults (N=6,393). Problem drinking was dichotomized at each of three waves, derived from six symptoms of problematic alcohol use (e.g., tolerance). Sense of control was assessed with two dimensions: personal mastery, referring to self-efficacy about goal-directed behavior, and perceived constraints, concerning attributions of life or problem-solving efficacy to factors outside one’s control. Multilevel modeling examined effects of perceived control on the odds of problem drinking. Lower perceived control, in terms of both individual differences and fluctuation from one’s average control across time, significantly predicted greater odds of problem drinking. Considering the two dimensions separately, mastery did not predict problem drinking, whereas the odds of problem drinking were 1.7 times higher for each standard deviation increase in constraints. Odds of problem drinking were greater among those who were younger, male, and more educated, but these factors did not moderate effects of constraints on problem drinking.