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Affective decision-making predictive of Chinese adolescent drinking behaviors

  • LIN XIAO (a1), ANTOINE BECHARA (a1), L. JERRY GRENARD (a2), W. ALAN STACY (a3) (a4), PAULA PALMER (a3) (a4), YONGLAN WEI (a5), YONG JIA (a5), XIAOLU FU (a5) and C. ANDERSON JOHNSON (a3) (a4)...


The goal of the current investigation was to address whether affective decision making would serve as a unique neuropsychological marker to predict drinking behaviors among adolescents. We conducted a longitudinal study of 181 Chinese adolescents in Chengdu city, China. In their 10th grade (ages 15–16), these adolescents were tested for their affective decision-making ability using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and working memory capacity using the Self-Ordered Pointing Test. Self-report questionnaires were used to assess academic performance and drinking behaviors. At 1-year follow-up, questionnaires were completed to assess drinking behaviors, and the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale was used to examine four dimensions of impulsivity: urgency, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance, and sensation seeking. Results indicated that those adolescents who progressed to binge drinking or exhibited consistent binge drinking not only performed poorly on the IGT but also scored significantly higher in urgency compared to those who never or occasionally drank. Moreover, better IGT scores predicted fewer drinking problems and fewer drinks 1 year later after controlling for demographic variables, the previous drinking behaviors, working memory, and impulsivity. These findings suggest that deficits in affective decision making may be important independent determinants of compulsive drinking and potentially addictive behavior in adolescents. (JINS, 2009, 15, 547–557.)


Corresponding author

*Correspondence and reprint requests to: C. Anderson Johnson, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, 180 E. Via Verde, Suite 100, San Dimas, California 91773. E-mail:


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