Patterns of bi-directional relations across alcohol use, religiosity, and self-control in adolescent girls

Meredith H. Palm, Shawn J. Latendresse, Tammy Chung, Alison E. Hipwell, Carolyn E. Sartor

Publication Date: 09/04/2021

Examining predictors of alcohol use among adolescent girls is increasingly important to enhance prevention efforts, given that the gender gap in alcohol use is steadily closing. While both religiosity and self-control have been independently associated with decreased alcohol use, little research has explored 1) whether religiosity and self-control are reciprocally related and 2) whether the reciprocal association between these constructs may indicate different patterns in the development of alcohol use. As such, this study examined whether there are multiple patterns of reciprocal relationships across religiosity, self-control, and alcohol use among adolescent girls. Latent variable mixture modeling was combined with an autoregressive cross-lagged panel model to identify discrete, prototypical patterns of longitudinal associations (i.e., subgroups) across religiosity, self-control, and alcohol use among 2,122 girls ages 13–17. Psychosocial covariates (e.g., conduct problems) were examined as predictors of each subgroup. Two subgroups were identified. Self-control was associated with reduced alcohol use in both the majority (87.56% of the sample) and minority (12.44% of the sample) subgroups, but only the majority subgroup also demonstrated associations between religiosity, self-control, and alcohol use. Religiosity may predict lower alcohol use in a majority of adolescent girls but this association may not be present among all girls, suggesting that there is a qualitative difference in how religiosity is associated with self-control and alcohol use between subgroups. Results also suggest that higher levels of conduct problems may predict which girls are more likely to demonstrate associations between only self-control and alcohol use, and demonstrate no significant associations with religiosity.