A Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (MRSDA) is requested from NIAAA for the development of an independent program of research to examine relationship-specific alcohol use motivations and event- level relationship-motivated alcohol use processes in romantic relationships. Individuals in romantic relationships consume alcohol in relationship-specific domains (e.g., self-disclosure, expressing intimacy, coping with relationship problems) that are distinct from general motivated-drinking domains and that have relationship-specific consequences. This is a public health concern because some couples continue to drink excessively despite experiencing alcohol-related and relationship problems, whereas others do not. Understanding the relationship-specific motivations for alcohol use, as well as the risk and protective factors associated with relationship drinking processes as they occur in real-time in couples' natural environments, is crucial to addressing problematic alcohol use in relationships. This understanding can ultimately inform prevention and intervention efforts to improve the health and well being of romantic couples. A long-term career goal of the candidate is to use this research to develop a comprehensive model of relationship- motivated alcohol use to guide future research and theory development on couples' alcohol use. The proposed study and training experiences of the MRSDA are an initial step in developing an independent program of research toward achieving this long-term goal. The candidate will use the five-year award period to receive extensive training and mentoring in five key areas: 1) the adaptation, development, and validation of a measure of relationship-specific drinking motives; 2) ecological momentary assessments (EMA) of the determinants and consequences of relationship drinking events and related analysis of multilevel dyadic data; 3) naturalistic observation of relationship drinking events using the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) and related coding of behavioral data; 4) psychosocial and contextual risk and protective factors associated with relationship-motivated alcohol use; and 5) the ethical and responsible conduct of research involving human subjects. The candidate proposes a two-part study in which a measure of relationship-specific drinking motives is adapted from existing measures, refined, and validated using an online survey methodology (Study 1), and momentary relationship-motivated drinking events and processes are assessed in real-time using an innovative multi-method approach combining EMA, EAR, and daily reports. It is hypothesized that relationship- specific drinking motives will predict relationship alcohol use and consequences above and beyond general drinking motives, and that these motives will be differentially associated with intra-individual (e.g., mood) and inter-individual (e.g., partner influence) risk and protective factors in couples' natural drinking environments as well as negative vs. benign alcohol-related consequences (e.g., relationship-specific drinking problems; conflict with partner; intimacy). The research environment at the Research Institute on Addictions, combined with the carefully selected expert mentoring team, will provide the candidate with excellent support and guidance during the award period. The combined training and research experiences of the MRSDA will provide necessary skills and ideally position the candidate to pursue a program of independent research addressing problematic relationship-motivated alcohol use as an important public health concern.
Individuals in romantic relationships drink for relationship-specific reasons (e.g., self-disclosure, expressing intimacy, coping with relationship problems) that are distinct from general drinking motivations. Additionally, some couples continue to drink excessively despite experiencing alcohol-related and relationship problems. Understanding the relationship-specific motivations for alcohol use, as well as the risk and protective factors associated with relationship drinking processes as they occur in real-time in couples' natural environments, is crucial to addressing problematic alcohol use in relationships as a public health concern.
|Levitt, Ash; Leonard, Kenneth E (2015) Insecure attachment styles, relationship-drinking contexts, and marital alcohol problems: Testing the mediating role of relationship-specific drinking-to-cope motives. Psychol Addict Behav 29:696-705|
|Levitt, Ash; Derrick, Jaye L; Testa, Maria (2014) Relationship-specific alcohol expectancies and gender moderate the effects of relationship drinking contexts on daily relationship functioning. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 75:269-78|