The Influence of Gender, Anxiety and Food Cravings on Alcohol Use within a University Population

  • Marissa Jaques My Dream Job Careers Consulting
  • Peta Stapleton Bond University


The present study aimed to investigate the effect of gender, anxiety and food cravings on alcohol use within a university population. University students (n = 164) completed a survey containing a demographic questionnaire, the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, the State Trait Anxiety Inventory and the Food Cravings Inventory. The results of hierarchical multiple regression analyses concluded that gender was a significant predictor of alcohol use in university students, with males reporting increased levels of alcohol consumption than females. In addition, gender was also found to be a significant predictor of trait anxiety, with females reporting greater levels of trait anxiety than males. Furthermore, food cravings were also a significant predictor of alcohol use in university students. Unexpectedly, state and trait anxiety failed to significantly predict alcohol use in the current sample, and possible explanations for this are provided. The findings are in line with empirical literature and are relevant to the incentive model, motivational model of alcohol use and outcome expectancy theory. Future research calls for a more comprehensive analysis of the relationships between these variables in order to better educate members of this population on safer alcohol related practices.

Author Biography

Peta Stapleton, Bond University
Assistant Professor, Psychology



Adelekan, M.L., Abiodun, O.A., Imouokhome-Obayan, A.O., Oni, G.A., & Ogunremi, O.O. (1993). Psychosocial correlates of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use: Findings from a Nigerian university. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 33, 247-256. Retrieved from

Adelekan, M.L., Abiodun, O.A., Obayan, O.A., Oni, G., & Ogunremi, O.O. (1992). Prevalence and pattern of substance abuse among undergraduates in a Nigerian university. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 29(3), 255-261. Retrieved from

Allen, J.P., Litten, R.Z., Fertig, J.B., & Babor, T. (1997). A review of research on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 21(4), 613-619. Retrieved from

Babor, T.F., Higgins-Biddle, J.C., Saunders, J.B., & Monteiro, M.G. (2001). The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test: Guidelines for use in primary care. (2nd ed.) Retrieved from

Barry, K.L., & Fleming, M.F. (1993). The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and the SMAST-13: Predictive validity in a rural primary care sample. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 28, 33-42. Retrieved from

Belzer, K.D., D’Zurilla, T.J., & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2002). Social problem solving and trait anxiety as predictors of worry in a college student population. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 573-585. Retrieved from

Bieling, P.J., Antony, M.M., & Swinson, R.P. (1998). The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Trait version: Structure and content re-examined. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36, 777-788. Retrieved from

Bohn, M.J., Babor, T.F., & Kranzler, H.R. (1995). The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): Validation of a screening instrument for use in medical settings. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 56, 423-432. Retrieved from

Bongers, I.M.B., Van De Goor, L.A.M., Van Oers, J.A.M., & Garretsen, H.F.L. (1998). Gender differences in alcohol-related problems: Controlling for drinking behaviour. Addiction, 93(3), 411-421. Retrieved from

Cohen, J.H., Kristal, A.R., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Rock, C.L., & Neuhouser, M.L. (2002). Psychological distress is associated with unhealthful dietary practices. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(5), 699-703. Retrieved from

De Visser, L., Van der Knaap, L.J., Van de Loo, A.J.A.E., Van der Weerd, C.M.M., Ohl, F., & Van den Bos, R. (2010). Trait anxiety affects decision making differently in healthy men and women: Towards gender-specific endophenotypes of anxiety. Neuropsychologia, 48, 1598-1606. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.01.027

Egloff, B., & Schmukle, S.C. (2004). Gender differences in implicit and explicit anxiety measures. Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 1807-1815. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2003.07.002

Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Buchner, A., & Lang, A.G. (2009). Statistical power analyses using G*Power 3.1: Tests for correlation and regression analyses. Behavior Research Methods, 41, 1149-1160. doi:10.3758/BRM.41.4.1149

Fleming, J. (1996). The epidemiology of alcohol use in Australian women: Findings from a national survey of women’s drinking. Addiction, 91(9), 1325-1334. Retrieved from

Fleming, M.F., Barry, K.L., & MacDonald, R. (1991). The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) in a college sample. International Journal of the Addictions, 26, 1173-1185. Retrieved from

Gendall, K.A., Sullivan, P.F., Joyce, P.R., Fear, J.L., & Bulik, C.M. (1997). Psychopathology and personality of young women who experience food cravings. Addictive Behaviors, 22(4), 545-555. Retrieved from

Gmel, G., Heeb, J., & Rehm, J. (2001). Is frequency of drinking an indicator of problem drinking? A psychometric analysis of a modified version of the alcohol use disorders identification test in Switzerland. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 64, 151-163. Retrieved from

Kabacoff, R.I., Segal, D.L., Hersen, M., & Van Hasselt, V.B. (1997). Psychometric properties and diagnostic utility of the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory with older adult psychiatric outpatients. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 11(1), 33-47. Retrieved from

Karam, E.G., Maalouf, W.E., & Ghandour, L.A. (2004). Alcohol use among university students in Lebanon: Prevalence, trends and covariates. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 76, 273-286. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2004.06.003

Lafay, L., Thomas, F., Mennen, L., Charles, M.A., Eschwege, E., Borys, J., & Basdevant, A. (2001). Gender differences in the relation between food cravings and mood in an adult community: Results from the Fleurbaix Laventie Ville Sante Study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 29(2), 195-204. Retrieved from

Martin, C.K., O’Neil, P.M., & Pawlow, L. (2006). Changes in food cravings during low calorie and very low calorie diets. Obesity, 14(1), 115-121. Retrieved from

Martin, C.K., O’Neil, P.M., Tollefson, G., Greenway, F.L., & White, M.A. (2008). The association between food cravings and consumption of specific foods in a laboratory taste test. Appetite, 51, 324-326. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.03.002

Maruish, M.E. (2004). The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes assessment (3rd ed.). Minnesota: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Mitchell, M.L., & Jolley, J.M. (2010). Research design explained (7th ed.). California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2004). Gender differences in risk factors and consequences for alcohol use and problems. Clinical Psychology Review, 24, 981-1010. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2004.08.003

Norberg, M.M., Norton, A.R., Olivier, J. & Zvolensky, M.J. (2010). Social anxiety, reasons for drinking and college students. Behavior Therapy, 41, 555-566. Retrieved from

Piran, N., & Robinson, S.R. (2006). Associations between disordered eating behaviors and licit and illicit substance use and abuse in a university sample. Addictive Behaviors, 31, 1761-1775. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2005.12.021

Schulte, M.T., Ramo, D., & Brown, S.A. (2009). Gender differences in factors influencing alcohol use and drinking progression among adolescents. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 535-547. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2009.06.003

Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., & Luschens, R. E. (1970). Manual for the State-

Trait Anxiety Inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.

Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

White, M.A., & Grilo, C.M. (2005). Psychometric properties of the Food Craving Inventory among obese patients with binge eating disorder. Eating Behaviors, 6, 239-245. doi: 10.106/j.eatbeh.2005.01.001

White, M.A., Whisenhunt, B.L., Williamson, D.A., Greenway, F.L., & Netemeyer, R.G. (2002). Development and validation of the Food Craving Inventory. Obesity Research, 10(2), 107-114. Retrieved from

Wicki, M., Kuntsche, E., & Gmel, G. (2010). Drinking at European universities? A review of students alcohol use. Addictive Behaviors, 35, 913-924. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2010.06.015

Vitasari, P., Wahab, M., Herawan, T., Othman, A., & Sinnadurai, S. (2011). Re-test of State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) among engineering students in Malaysia: Reliability and validity tests. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 3843-3848. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.04.383