Dispositional disinhibition and alcohol use disorders: personality, risk appraisal and problematic alcohol consumption

Liam Satchell*, Henry Johnson, Charlotte Adele Hudson, Craig Harper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: The relationship between psychopathic personality and problematic alcohol consumption could be important for understanding risk and potential interventions. This existing work on psychopathy and alcohol abuse is typically conducted in criminal and hospitalised populations and little attention has been paid to investigating the general populations’ psychopathic personality and problematic consumption of alcohol. The psychopathy-focused Triarchic Psychopathy Measure (TriPM) and the more general Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory of personality (RST) focus on individual differences related to low self-control and sensation seeking, and could relate to problematic alcohol consumption in non-forensic samples. The current study brings together RST and psychopathic personality traits to predict alcohol use disorders. We hypothesise that impulsivity and anxiety predict problematic alcohol consumption and related risk appraisal.

Methods: We analysed data from a sample of 349 general population participants who had completed measures of the TriPM, RST, alcohol use disorders (AUDIT) and their perceived negative outcomes of high risk behaviour with the Cognitive Appraisal of Risky Events (CARE) measure.

Results: We find some evidence that TriPM’s disinhibition and RST’s anxious personality traits relate to AUDIT scores. We find limited evidence that personality traits predict the negative appraisal of risky events, but alcohol use was related to increased perceptions of the negative outcomes of alcohol consumption.

Conclusions: Overall this study shows that individual differences do relate to problematic alcohol consumption but not the appraisal of risks related to alcohol consumption. This has implications for the structuring of intervention for those at risk of problematic consumption of alcohol.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-217
Number of pages9
JournalSubstance Use & Misuse
Issue number2
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2020


  • alcohol abuse
  • psychopathy
  • reinforcement sensitivity Theory
  • personality
  • risk evaluation


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