The role of moral disengagement in underage drinking and heavy episodic drinking

Catherine Angela Quinn*, Kay Bussey

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Objectives: The current study had two aims. First, to develop a moral disengagement scale contextualized to underage drinking. Second, to investigate Bandura's (1986) self-regulatory model within the context of underage drinking. Method: Two different samples of students participated in the study. The first sample included 619 (362 females) adolescents (Mage = 15.3 years, SD = 1.09 years) and the second sample 636 (386 females) adolescents (Mage = 15.3 years, SD = 1.03 years). Students in the first sample completed the Underage Drinking Disengagement Scale (UDDS), and measures of engagement in underage drinking and heavy episodic drinking. Students in the second sample completed these measures as well as scales of general moral disengagement, personal standards, and anticipatory guilt associated with underage drinking. Results: For the UDDS, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses verified a single factor structure. The UDDS was more strongly associated with engagement in underage drinking and heavy episodic drinking than a general measure of moral disengagement. A moderated mediation analysis revealed that adolescents who negatively evaluated underage drinking reported more anticipatory guilt, and more anticipatory guilt was associated with less engagement in underage drinking and less heavy episodic drinking. This relationship was weaker at high compared to low levels of underage drinking disengagement. Conclusions/Importance: Understanding how adolescents self-regulate their drinking, and ways that such self-regulation may be deactivated or disengaged, may help identify those adolescents at increased risk of drinking underage and of engaging in heavy episodic drinking.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1437-1448
    Number of pages12
    JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
    Volume50
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2015

    Keywords

    • underage drinking
    • moral disengagement
    • guilt
    • alcohol
    • adolescent

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