The Differential Development of Adolescent Alcohol Expectancies May Predict Adult Alcoholism

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To investigate changes in adolescent's alcohol expectancies as a function of increasing age and drinking experience, we compared the degree to which 12–14, 15–16, and 17–19 year old adolescents from normal seventh to twelfth grade classrooms (N = 1580) affirmed items comprising seven alcohol-expectancy scales. Results showed that adolescents increasingly believe alcohol improves social behavior, increases arousal, and decreases tension as they age. In contrast, the belief that alcohol improves cognitive and motor functioning increased and then decreased in a general adolescent sample, but remained high in problem drinking adolescents. The subsequent discovery of this same factor in 305 hospitalized alcoholics suggests that strong affirmation of this expectancy in late adolescence may have prognostic, and perhaps etiologic significance for the development of alcoholism.

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Addictive Behaviors, v. 10, issue 3, p. 299-306