Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Second Advisor

Sarah Hayes-Skelton

Third Advisor

David Pantalone


Alcohol use problems affect a wide range of people in the U.S., and are characterized by high comorbidity, chronicity, and high relapse rates. While by no means restricted to stigmatized or underserved groups, various forms of social disadvantage have been shown to elevate the risk for alcohol use problems and vulnerability to more negative impacts of such problems (Mulia et al., 2009; Mulia & Zemore, 2012), particularly for those individuals with social disadvantage who also report using alcohol to cope with psychological distress (Hatzenbuelher et al., 2011). An acceptance-based behavioral (ABB) model may apply to understanding the development and maintenance of alcohol use disorders, and may provide a framework with particular relevance to the effects of chronic stressors including different forms of social disadvantage. Decentering and valued living are components of an ABB model that may be buffering in the relations among social disadvantage, psychological symptoms, drinking to cope, and drinking problems, but have yet to be investigated in relation to these constructs. The current study analyzed self-report data from 349 undergraduate students from a diverse public urban university to investigate the potential moderating or protective effect of decentering and valued living on developing problematic drinking in the presence of experiencing social status and economic disadvantage. Structural equation modeling and hierarchical regression tests did not support the hypothesized moderating relations between decentering and valued living with social disadvantage and drinking variables. However, the main effect of social status disadvantage emerged consistently as positively associated with drinking to cope and drinking problems, while economic disadvantage did not. Additionally, the main effect of valued living was significantly negatively predictive of drinking to cope, while decentering was indirectly associated with drinking to cope through its negative relation with psychological distress. Results suggest that social status disadvantage may be an important contextual factor to consider when conceptualizing problem drinking for some individuals. Additionally, the findings suggest that decentering and valued living may be helpful treatment components for drinking to cope, problem drinking, and psychological distress for clients across differing levels of social disadvantage.


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