Heavy episodic drinking is a trait-state: A cautionary note

Background: Heavy episodic (binge) drinking is common in and problematic for undergraduates. Researchers often assume that an individual’s heavy episodic drinking is stable and trait-like. However, this fails to consider fluctuating, state-like variation in heavy episodic drinking. This study proposes and tests a novel conceptualization of heavy episodic drinking as a trait-state wherein the contribution of both trait-like stability and state-like fluctuations are quantified. It was hypothesized that heavy episodic drinking is a trait-state such that individuals have trait-like tendencies to engage in heavy episodic drinking, and state-like differences in the expression of this tendency over time.