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Fragile Self-Esteem and Alcohol-Related Negative Consequences Among College Student Drinkers

The pattern of alcohol consumption among college students and its negative consequences have been extensively studied. The purpose of the present study was to gain a better understanding of the connection between self-esteem and alcohol use among college students. Participants were 623 undergraduates who completed measures of self-esteem level (i.e., an overall evaluation of one's own value and worth), contingent self-esteem (i.e., what an individual believes he or she must accomplish in order to have value and worth as a person), alcohol use, harmful drinking patterns, and negative consequences of alcohol use. Our results show that individuals who possess high levels of self-esteem that are contingent (their positive self-views are strongly influenced by whether they have met the goals or standards they have set for themselves) report more alcohol-related negative consequences than individuals with noncontingent high self-esteem. Implications of these findings for understanding the connection between self-esteem and alcohol-related outcomes will be discussed.