The Development of Alcohol-Related Expectancies in Adolescents: Separating Pharmacological from Social Learning Influences

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Age Differences, Alcohol Drinking Attitudes, Alcohol Drinking Patterns, Expectations

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Constructed an adolescent expectancy questionnaire for use with 1,580 Ss aged 12–19 yrs. Expectancy factor structure was determined separately in 12–24 yr olds, 15–26 yr olds, and 17–29 yr olds, and in low- vs high-experience drinkers. Six expectancy factors repeated across all age groups: Physical Tension Reduction, Diversion from Worry, Increased Interpersonal Power, Magical Transformation of Experiences, Enhanced Pleasure, and Modification of Social–Emotional Behavior. Five of these were present in Ss with little or no drinking experience. Expectancy factor content became more homogeneous with increasing drinking experience and age. Results indicate that relatively well-developed expectancies exist prior to alcohol usage, but that pharmacological experience with alcohol crystallizes existing expectancies. The factors extracted were remarkably consistent with those from factor analytic investigations of alcohol expectancies in adults. Findings suggest that intervention to decrease the risk of adult problem drinking must begin with children.

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Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, v. 50, issue 3, p. 336-344