Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Laura Holt


Previous research has shown student-athletes are at greater risk for heavy alcohol use and that trait urgency (i.e., acting impulsively in response to negative or positive affect), injunctive norms (i.e., perceived approval from teammates and coaches about alcohol consumption), and drinking motives are associated with substance use. In my study, I aimed to not only replicate these associations with athletes from a small, private Division III institution, but also examined several new questions, including whether captains’ approval of drinking predicted athlete drinking and whether the association between drinking motives and actual drinking (and drinking-related problems) depended on a team’s level of competitiveness (i.e., overall winning percentage of the past five seasons). 124 Trinity student athletes were recruited to complete an online questionnaire. I hypothesized that (a) athletes who score higher in trait urgency would endorse stronger motives to drink and more alcohol use, (b) athletes would perceive greater approval for drinking from teammates and captains compared to coaches, and (c) athletes' sport-related positive reinforcement and sport-related coping motives would be positively related to substance use and higher competitiveness would moderate this effect. The results showed that trait urgency had a direct effect on drinking frequency and an indirect effect on drinking frequency via team cohesion and positive reinforcement. Injunctive norms were highest for teammates, lowest for coaches and captain fell in between. Finally, results showed the interaction between coping motives and winning percentage predicted in season drinking; the interaction between positive reinforcement and winning percentage predicted in season drinking; and the interaction between coping motives and winning percentage predicted alcohol consequences.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford, CT for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

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