The role of moral disengagement in underage drinking and heavy episodic drinking

Quinn, Catherine Angela & Bussey, Kay (2015) The role of moral disengagement in underage drinking and heavy episodic drinking. Substance Use & Misuse, 50(11), pp. 1437-1448.

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The current study had two aims. First, to develop a moral disengagement scale contextualized to underage drinking. Second, to investigate Bandura’s (1986) self-regulatory model within the context of underage drinking.


Two different samples of students participated in the study. The first sample included 619 (362 females) adolescents (Mage = 15.3 years, SD = 1.09 years) and the second sample 636 (386 females) adolescents (Mage = 15.3 years, SD = 1.03 years). Students in the first sample completed the Underage Drinking Disengagement Scale (UDDS), and measures of engagement in underage drinking and heavy episodic drinking. Students in the second sample completed these measures as well as scales of general moral disengagement, personal standards and anticipatory guilt associated with underage drinking.


For the UDDS, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses verified a single factor structure. The UDDS was more strongly associated with engagement in underage drinking and heavy episodic drinking than a general measure of moral disengagement. A moderated mediation analysis revealed that adolescents who negatively evaluated underage drinking reported more anticipatory guilt, and more anticipatory guilt was associated with less engagement in underage drinking and less heavy episodic drinking. This relationship was weaker at high compared to low levels of underage drinking disengagement.


Understanding how adolescents self-regulate their drinking, and ways that such self-regulation may be deactivated or disengaged, may help identify those adolescents at increased risk of drinking underage and of engaging in heavy episodic drinking.

Impact and interest:

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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 93607
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: underage drinking, moral disengagement, guilt, alcohol, adolescent
DOI: 10.3109/10826084.2015.1018541
ISSN: 1532-2491
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Deposited On: 10 Mar 2016 23:54
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2016 04:41

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