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Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory predicts that those with a strong behavioral inhibition system (BIS) likely experience considerable anxiety and uncertainty during the transition out of university. Accordingly, they may continue to drink heavily to cope during this time (a period associated with normative reductions in heavy drinking), but only if they also have a strong behavioral approach system (BAS) to enhance the anxiolytic effects of drinking. The purpose of this study was to test this hypothesis. Participants completed online measures prior to and at 3-month intervals over the course of the year following graduation. As hypothesized, results showed that an elevated BIS predicted impeded maturing out, but only when the impulsivity facet of BAS was also elevated. In contrast, a strong BIS predicted rapid maturing out if BAS impulsivity was weak. Study findings advance our understanding of BIS-related alcohol misuse trajectories in young adulthood and provide direction for clinical interventions.
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