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Heterogeneity of Pregamers by Consumption and Reinforcement Reasons: A Latent Profile Analysis



Pregaming is a common, high-risk drinking activity among college students that has been largely unchangeable despite targeted intervention approaches. Therefore, identifying profiles of pregamers could enhance understanding of the risks associated with this practice and inform intervention development.


This study identified subtypes of pregamers in undergraduates (N = 911; 60% female, 42.9% White) attending 3 U.S. universities in 2012. Self-report data assessed recent alcohol use (overall, heavy, and pregaming), pregaming motives, and demographics. Alcohol-related consequences were assessed via the Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire.


Latent profile analysis using pregaming-specific indicators assessing motives (e.g., to avoid getting caught) and consumption (e.g., estimated pregaming blood alcohol concentration) yielded 5 unique profiles. Three profiles were characterized by pregaming on 50% or more of all drinking events that differed by pregaming consumption and motives: Instrumental (5.3%; heavy consumption, intoxication-driven motives), Global (16.0%; moderate consumption, indistinct motives), and Risk-averse (18.3%; moderate-to-heavy consumption, negatively reinforcing motives). Two profiles reported lower levels of pregaming: Occasional (32.4%; moderate consumption, indistinct motives) and Infrequent (28.0%; lowest pregaming involvement). Cross-profile differences were then examined for demographics, general drinking and pregaming-specific motives, and alcohol-related consequences. Profile comparisons indicated differences in overall alcohol consumption, ethnicity, gender, current living arrangements, Greek involvement, and a variety of alcohol-related consequences (ps < 0.01).


Overall, pregaming is a very heterogeneous behavior among college students in that some students utilize this drinking practice as a means to mitigate risk and others use it to promote intoxication. Results suggest that distinguishing pregamers by consumption as well as motives can facilitate the development of more tailored intervention approaches for students who engage in this high-risk practice.

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