A Test of the Theory of Planned Behavior in the Prediction of Alcohol-Induced Blackout Intention and Frequency

Angelo M. DiBello, Mary Beth Miller, Jennifer E. Merrill, Kate B. Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: This study examined the theory of planned behavior (TPB) as an explanatory model for alcohol-induced blackouts among college students. Blackouts are periods of time wherein individuals continue to function and engage in their social environment but do not remember it as a result of consuming large quantities of alcohol. Social cognitive factors posited within TPB, such as perceived norms and personal attitudes toward alcohol consumption, are reliable predictors of alcohol use and related problems. However, research to date has not examined these theoretical antecedents as predictors of alcohol-induced blackout. Methods: College students with a history of blackout (N = 384) completed a baseline survey, and a subsample (N = 120) completed a 1-month follow-up survey. Negative binomial mediation models were used to evaluate intentions to blackout as a mediator of the norms, attitudes, and self-efficacy to avoid blackout–blackout frequency association at baseline and 1-month follow-up. Results: Norms, attitudes, and self-efficacy to avoid blackout all significantly predicted blackout intentions at baseline, which in turn predicted more frequent blackouts both at baseline and at 1-month follow-up. Notably, blackout attitudes demonstrated both direct and indirect associations with blackout frequency. Conclusions: Prospective analyses provided partial support for the TPB, with only attitudes and intentions demonstrating prospective associations with actual blackout frequency. Given the particularly strong association between blackout attitudes and frequency of blackouts, attitudes may represent an important and novel target for prevention and intervention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Alcohol
  • Attitudes
  • College Students
  • Drinking
  • Social Norms


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