Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Clinical Psychology

Committee Director

Cathy Lau-Barraco

Committee Member

Abby Braitman

Committee Member

Robin Lewis


Unplanned drinkers may experience elevated risk for drinking-related harm. Research examining unplanned drinking focuses on the unplanned nature of a drinking episode (i.e., did the student drink when no drinking was planned), yet this does not capture the importance of the unintended quantity consumed. For instance, a discrepancy between drinking intentions and actual consumption has the potential to differentially impact alcohol-related outcomes beyond what is accounted for by unplanned drinking episodes. Further, research has not investigated how college students’ unintended drinking is associated with alcohol-related consequences. Moreover, utilization of protective behavioral strategies (PBS) has been shown to decrease negative outcomes and is theorized to explain the disproportionate consequences experienced by unplanned versus planned drinkers, yet PBS have not been evaluated within the drinking discrepancy literature. Thus, the present study utilized data from a typical drinking occasion to (1) describe the occurrence of intention-inconsistent drinking, (2) determine the association between discrepancies and consequences, (3) and evaluate the impact of unplanned drinking, PBS use, and their combined effects on this relationship. Additionally, we (4) assessed the influence of social factors (i.e., active and passive peer influence) on quantity discrepancies. Participants were 44 (28 females; Mage = 21.91) heavy drinking college students who completed two surveys (one pre-weekend and post-weekend) on their drinking behaviors for Friday and Saturday. Results indicated that the majority of drinking episodes were not consistent with participants’ intended quantities, and drinking less than intended occurred most prevalently. Additionally, among planned drinkers with low PBS, larger discrepancies associated with lower alcohol-related consequences. Finally, social factors did not significantly predict discrepancy size. Overall, this study was among the first to assess discrepancy statistics for U.S. college students on typical drinking events. Additionally, we were the first to utilize discrepancy statistics as unique predictors of consequences, and our findings shed light on the influence of unintended drinking for a subset of drinkers. However, the present study’s analyses were severely influenced by low sample size and COVID-19-related factors, and results should be interpreted with caution. Additional research with adequate power is needed to replicate the present study under conditions outside of COVID-19.


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