Emerging Adulthood : Internal Markers of Adulthood and Alcohol Use
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, March 17, 2015.
Emerging adulthood is the developmental period of transition between adolescence and adulthood. This period is widely associated with identity exploration as well as risk behaviors, such as alcohol use. As alcohol use is at its highest point during emerging adulthood, developmental patterns of use are also known to substantially decrease by the end of the transition. External markers of adulthood (marital status, parenthood, and career) are recognized markers of the transition and have been associated with alcohol use decline. The current study first establishes the importance of internal markers (responsibility, decision making, and financial independence) in recognizing adulthood. Research suggests that higher internal achievement is representative of successful navigation of development and will be predictive of lower alcohol use. This relationship between both external and internal markers of adulthood and alcohol use was analyzed using two waves of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID): Transition to Adulthood questionnaire (TA). External and internal markers were investigated as potential predictors of frequency of alcohol consumption and binge drinking status between early emerging adulthood (ages 18-21) and late emerging adulthood (ages 24-27). Results suggest that parenthood and financial independence are predictive markers of the frequency of alcohol consumption in late emerging adulthood. Financial independence approaches significance as a partial mediator between parenthood and drinking frequency. No markers have been concluded to be predictive of binge drinking status. These markers may be used to construct preventative programs and interventions to reduce negative behavioral outcomes associated with drinking.