The Role of Executive Function in Bridging the Intention-Behaviour Gap for Binge-Drinking in University Students

04 June 2012

Background Alcohol consumption contributes to a significant proportion of disease and the high prevalence amongst young adults is a worldwide health concern. Purpose To determine which aspects of executive function (EF) distinguish binge-drinkers from non binge-drinkers and to establish the role of EF in predicting behaviour. Methods Self-report questionnaires, four tests of self-regulation and a behaviour measure were administered to 153 students. Results The Theory of Planned Behaviour model was significant in predicting both intentions and behaviour. Although binge-drinkers and non binge-drinkers were found to differ on three of the four measures of EF, none predicted additional variance in behaviour. Planning ability and inhibition control moderated the relationship between intention and behaviour such that for individuals who intended to binge-drink, those with high planning ability or high inhibitory control were more likely to avoid doing so. Conclusions Interventions targeting binge-drinking behaviour should aim to develop planning skills and inhibitory control.