Negative urgency, mood induction, and alcohol seeking behaviors

J. Davis VanderVeen, Martin H. Plawecki, James B. Millward, James Hays, David A. Kareken, Sean O'Connor, Melissa A. Cyders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Background Negative urgency, defined as impulsive risk-taking during extreme negative emotional states, is the most important impulsivity-related trait for alcohol-related problems and alcohol dependence. However, how negative urgency imparts risk for alcohol-related problems is not yet well understood. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to examine how negative urgency relates to separable aspects of the emotional experience and alcohol-seeking behaviors. Methods A total of 34 (19 women) community-dwelling, alcohol-using adults aged 21–32 (mean age = 24.86, SD = 3.40, 74.3% Caucasian) completed two counterbalanced intravenous alcohol self-administration sessions: one during a neutral mood condition and one during a negative mood condition. Results Negative urgency was associated with 1) greater mood change following negative mood induction (F = 4.38, df = 15, p = 0.002, η2 = 0.87), but was unrelated to changes in craving or cortisol release in response to mood induction; 2) greater alcohol craving prior to and after an alcohol prime (F = 3.27, p = 0.02, η2 = 0.86), but only in the negative and not the neutral mood condition; and 3) higher peak BrAC (F = 2.13, df = 42, p = 0.02, η2 = 0.48), continuing to increase intoxication level over a longer period (F = 3.77, df = 42, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.62), and more alcohol seeking (F = 21.73, df = 22, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.94) throughout the negative session. Negative urgency was associated with overall lower cortisol release. Conclusions These results highlight the importance of assessing behavioral indicators of negative urgency under mood condition, and suggest that negative urgency may amplify alcohol self-administration through increased negative emotional reactivity to mood events and increased alcohol craving after initial alcohol exposure, leading to maintenance of alcohol related behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-158
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol seeking
  • Intravenous (IV) alcohol administration
  • Mood induction
  • Negative urgency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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