OVERVIEW: College student drinking remains a concern on campuses, with many interventions for college students not showing the desired effect in lowering alcohol use and problems. Thus, examining possible underlying factors, such as psychopathy, is important. Psychopathy includes elements of callousness, manipulativeness, charm, and impulsivity. Additionally, psychopathy has been associated with increased alcohol use and problems. Despite the overwhelming evidence of psychopathy's role in alcohol pathology writ large, and that psychopathy is considered to include predatory interpersonal skills and antisocial behaviors, there is little research examining the role of psychopathy in peer influence related to alcohol use and protective strategies. The present 2-part study examines the relationship between a friend's psychopathic traits and an individual's use of protective behavioral strategies (PBS) and alcohol pathology. METHOD: A college student sample (n = 987) who endorsed drinking completed an online survey on alcohol use, PBS, psychopathy, and perception of their friend's psychopathy. A sample of n = 11 dyads also completed a weekly diary study, answering questions on their psychopathy, alcohol consumption, problems, and PBS use. RESULTS: Part 1 found that a friend's perceived psychopathy significantly interacted with an individual's PBS use, though this did not fully moderate the relationship between PBS use and alcohol pathology. Part 2 found a friend's psychopathy was associated with reduced PBS use when an individual drank with a friend with higher psychopathy. CONCLUSIONS: The present study provides evidence that drinking with a friend who has higher psychopathy than the individual reduces PBS use, resulting in higher levels of alcohol consumption. Interventions targeting college student drinking should consider addressing the importance of peer relations and highlight the usefulness of PBS as well as how friends could reduce PBS efficacy.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Kramer, Matthew, "Hannibal Lecter and a Friend Walk into a Bar: The Role of Psychopathy in Peer Drinking Behaviors" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1237.