Emerging adults—people aged 18–25 years—frequently behave recklessly. This study sheds light on the role of 4 psychosocial predictors of recklessness: (a) impulsivity, (b) peer pressure, (c) perceived risk, and (d) perceived benefits. The authors obtained self-report data from 208 emerging adults. All predictors were significantly correlated, in the expected directions, with 3 forms of reckless behavior: (a) reckless substance use, (b) reckless driving, and (c) reckless sexual behavior. Regression analyses revealed that, controlling for gender, relationship status, and social desirability, impulsivity predicted reckless substance use and sexual practices, peer pressure predicted reckless substance use, perceived risk predicted reckless driving, and perceived benefits predicted all three recklessness types. The authors’ psychosocial model of emerging adult recklessness gained additional support from the finding that all 4 predictors explained unique variance in overall recklessness.
Background: Alcohol use and related problems reach a peak in emerging adulthood. Impulsivity is a multifaceted construct known to be involved in emerging adult alcohol use. Few studies have examined impulsivity and alcohol use across both college attending and noncollege attending emerging adults. Objectives: To clarify the multifaceted nature of impulsivity and its links to emerging adult alcohol use, this study investigated whether the five distinct facets of the UPPS-P model of impulsivity were predictive of three different behavioral outcomes: alcohol intake, alcohol related problems and binge drinking. In addition, the moderating effects of college attendance were tested. Methods: A community sample comprising 273 Australian college and noncollege attendees (58.6% women; 41.4% men) aged between 18 and 30 years (Mage = 23.71, SD = 2.81). Results: Multiple regression analyses demonstrated that lack of premeditation predicted alcohol intake and binge drinking behavior, whilst positive and negative urgency predicted alcohol related problems. Moderation analyses revealed that the effects of impulsivity on alcohol patterns were consistent for college and noncollege attending emerging adults. Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of impulsive urgency (both positive and negative) in emerging adult problematic alcohol use, and support the generalizability of college samples to broader emerging adult populations. Emerging adults may use alcohol to avoid negative mood states and further enhance positive mood states. Improved emotional regulation may help both college and non-college emerging adults reduce their alcohol use.