In our first hypothesis, we considered that neuroticism would be correlated with smoking consumption in female college students. To determine if there was a significant correlation between levels of neuroticism and smoking consumption we used a Pearson’s correlation, r(58) = .04, p= .77, ns (refer to Figure 1 for scatterplot). This moderate positive correlation was significant and does support the hypothesis that neuroticism would be associated with smoking in female college students.
In the second hypothesis, we predict that alcohol use in males would have a relevant correlation with extraversion. We used a Pearson’s correlation to determine the relationship between extraversion and alcohol use. The correlation scores showed a positive, moderate association between extraversion and alcohol use, r(58) = .33, p = .01 (refer to Figure 2 for scatterplot). This significant, positive correlation supports our hypothesis regarding the association between extraversion and alcohol consumption in males. We concluded that higher scores of extraversion in males had a linear relationship with considerable levels of alcohol use.
Our final hypothesis stated that marijuana use and conscientiousness would be strongly associated. A Pearson’s correlation was used to test significance between conscientiousness and marijuana consumption. These results indicated a weak negative relationship between these variables, r(118) = – .22, p = .02. This showed a weak negative correlation (refer to Figure 3 for scatterplot). The weak negative correlation does confirm the hypothesis that marijuana consumption is correlated inversely with higher scores of conscientiousness; however this week negative correlation might indicate that there is a low level of significance.
In this study, we intended to investigate the relationship between personality traits and substance use in college students. In addition, this study also found a set of associations with personality traits and substance use, considering the gender of participants. To begin, we analyzed the correlation between neuroticism and smoking in females. Next, we studied the relationship of extraversion and alcohol use in males. Last, we explored the associations between conscientiousness and marijuana use in the total sample population.
Results from the first inquiry reveal that female college students who present higher levels of neuroticism show a valuable predictor of smoking. Our results were supported by previous studies, which indicate that high levels of neuroticism could predict smoking habits (Terraciano et al., 2008). We can also discuss that our results indicate that gender is a significant variable to study neuroticism and smoking behaviors. For instance, in previous studies, researches found some gender differences between smokers and non-smokers in which female smokers demonstrated higher levels of neuroticism (Neale, Sullivan, ; Kendler, 2004). In addition, another study reported that college students who smoke presented higher levels neuroticism in comparison to students that do not smoke (Revell, Warburton, and Wesnes, 1985). This is relevant to our findings regarding the sample used in the study.
Regarding our second inquiry which explores the relationship between extraversion and alcohol use, our results are consistent with previous studies, which indicate that extraversion is a predictor of alcohol use (Flory, Lynam, Milich, Leukefeld ; Clayton, 2002). Our findings are supported by a study conducted by Grekin, Sher, ; Wood (2006) who assessed mental disorders in a college student sample using a health questionnaire. They found that extraversion was one of the personality traits that could predict alcohol use in males. However, some studies demonstrated that alcohol consumption in relation to gender do not provide significant data that could confirm significant correlation between extraversion and drinking behavior (Flory, Lynam, Milich, Leukefeld ; Clayton, 2002).
Our final inquiry, which predicts low levels of conscientiousness in relation with marijuana, is supported by previous studies. Researchers found that a low conscientiousness score is an important feature in marijuana users (Booth, Mõttus, Gow, Henderson, Munoz-Maniega, Murray, and Royle, 2014). They also found that low levels of conscientiousness in marijuana users are more significant in comparison with other drug consumers, which is relevant to our results. Moreover, other studies found that there was a stronger correlation between levels of conscientiousness, gender, and cannabis consumption. Researchers found that female cannabis consumers would score higher in conscientiousness in comparison with other traits (Stein, Newcomb, ; Bentler, 1987).
We observed some limitations in our studies in regards to age range, socioeconomic status, and mental heath issues. In this study, we did not consider age range, excluding the possible aspects of students that are non-traditional, which could be an important factor in predicting substance use. Thus, the economic status of college students might be an important aspect to consider when predicting the acquisition of substances or alcohol. Lastly, regarding the mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety in college age students, was not included when considering the sample.
Some implications for future studies about personality and substance could include a broadened scope of the study. First, it is important to consider the geographic location of the population and their legal status. For example, future studies about the marijuana should consider the legality of the substance in that particular state. Future studies should include the culture factor when considering the sample of a study. Another way to enhance future the studies about personality traits and substance use, is to include other types of substances that have become a trending product among college-aged students such as vapor items. Regarding the clinical implications, these types of studies could help bring awareness, develop preventive programs, and therapeutic interventions related to various types of substance consumption.
These trait interactions with substance use also provided limited support in some aspects such as age, culture. The age group was limited to individuals of “college-age” which does not specify the range of certain ages. This age limitation does not demonstrate the specific characteristic of the sample. Culture could also provide a limitation for the study. Some people can have the tendency to present substance use behaviors due to social factors stabilized by their beliefs and moral and region law; no necessary for their personality traits.
Implications for future research include investigating the relationships between two or more traits in regards to a specific substance use. This would provide a wider analysis that can help to expand the study of personality associated with substance use behaviors. Another possible implication could be developing a study considering samples from different locations to investigate personality and substance use considering not only gender and age but also other factors that can determine the appearance of these behaviors.
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