Validation of MDS-Based Modeling of Alcohol Expectancies in Memory: Age and Drinking-Related Differences in Expectancies of Children Assessed as First Associates

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As evidence has accumulated that alcohol expectancies mediate the effects of other drinking antecedents, attempts to understand the mechanism by which expectancies influence behavior have focused on modeling memory processes. Previous expectancy work, however, has used relatively indirect approaches to retrieve and model information stored in memory. By using the method most recommended by memory researchers for directly obtaining uncontaminated memory contents, we assessed children's expectancies and related findings to empirically modeled organization and activation of expectancies in memory based on scaled instruments. Individual interviews were conducted with 462 children in 2nd through 5th grades, and surveys were completed by 1,003 children in 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th grades. Interviews and surveys consisted of a measure designed to retrieve participants' first expectancy associate to an alcohol prompt and several drinking quantity/frequency questions. Older and higher drinking children were more likely to report positive expectancies as their first associate to an alcohol prompt. Age and drinking-based findings were consistent with organizational structure, dimension emphasis shift, and paths of association identified by prior multidimensional scaling techniques. Consumption of alcohol among children corresponded to accessibility of positive expectancies in memory. In addition, the use of multidimensional scaling to study the organization and activation of alcohol expectancies in memory was validated.

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Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, v. 24, issue 11, p. 1639-1646