Affect, personal strivings, and marijuana: Risk and protective factors within a self-regulation framework

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Kate B. Carey


Affect, Strivings, Marijuana, Risk, Protective factors, Self-regulation

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy | Substance Abuse and Addiction


This study examined psychological variables that serve as risk and protective factors for marijuana use and problems in young adults. Based upon previous literature, affect dysregulation was identified as a likely risk factor for marijuana use and problems. Affect regulation qualities may be influenced by individuals' concurrent goals. Self-regulation theory highlights the importance of hierarchical organization of goals in determining regulatory options. Personal strivings are higher order goals that may influence marijuana use to the extent that they are congruent or incongruent with use. Conflict between marijuana use and personal strivings was hypothesized to be a protective factor. Factor analytic procedures were used to reduce a broad range of affect dysregulation variables to a limited number of factors. These factors and marijuana-striving conflict were used to predict three degrees of involvement: marijuana initiation, use, and problems. Marijuana-striving conflict was negatively associated with marijuana use and initiation among men and women. Among men but not women, emotional instability moderated the relationship between striving conflict and use initiation and frequency. Specifically, the relationship between striving conflict and marijuana use was greater among emotionally stable men. In contrast, affect dysregulation variables were associated with marijuana-related problems (above and beyond lifetime use) in both men and women. Among women, striving conflict moderated the relationship between problems and emotional instability and impulse control. Congruent with the protective factor hypothesis, the relationship between emotional instability and marijuana-related problems was less pronounced among women with high degrees of marijuana-striving conflict. The form of the interaction with impulse control was not congruent with theoretical predictions. Rather, it appeared that good impulse control was associated with greater congruence between participants' evaluation of the effects of use on striving attainment and their reported use behavior.