Mary Zander

Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kyle De Young


A variety of risky behaviors have been found to be related to the tendency to act rashly in the presence of strong emotions, a trait known as urgency. However, whether this extends to a multitude of risky behaviors and what other traits may modify this risk, is unknown. Because individuals may be reluctant to admit to engaging in risky behaviors due to perceived social or legal consequences, these relationships are difficult to study. Current data collection techniques that provide anonymity to participants have serious limitations. This study aimed to test a new method of data collection, the Remote Response Method (RRM), which could address both concerns of anonymity and eliminate the current techniques limitations. This study also aimed to examine the relationship between risky behaviors, urgency, and the intensity of emotions. Participants (N = 897) completed questionnaires about risky behaviors, urgency, and emotional intensity. Results indicate that UCT produced potentially invalid prevalence rates for the risky behaviors, whereas the RRM and conventional condition produced similar prevalence rates. Negative urgency predicted eating disordered behaviors, alcohol abuse, risky sexual behaviors and supplement use, whereas positive urgency predicted alcohol abuse and steroid use. Although, affect intensity predicted participation in risky behaviors, in general, the hypothesis that affect intensity would moderate the relationship between risky behaviors and urgency was not supported. The results of this study suggest the RRM provides comparable estimates of prevalence rates as conventional methods of assessment. Also, urgency and affect intensity appear to be important risk factors across a number of risky behaviors.