Socio-environmental Influences on Adolescents' Alcohol Outcome Expectancies

A Prospective Analysis

Published in: Addiction, v. 101, no. 7, July 2006, p. 971-983

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Steven C. Martino, Rebecca L. Collins, Phyllis L. Ellickson, Terry L. Schell, Daniel F. McCaffrey

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AIMS: To investigate the prospective influence of social influence and social bonding variables on the development of alcohol outcome expectancies among adolescents with and without drinking experience. DESIGN: Longitudinal data from students in the control schools of a field trial designed to evaluate a school-based drug prevention program. SETTING: A total of 19 middle schools in South Dakota, USA. MEASUREMENTS: An alcohol outcome expectancy scale administered to 1410 students in grades 8 and 9. After using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to develop an expectancies measure, multiple-group (grade 8 drinkers versus grade 8 non-drinkers) path analysis was used to model 9th grade alcohol expectancies. Grade 8 social influence and bonding variables were used as predictors, controlling for grade 8 expectancies. FINDINGS: At the bivariate level, peer and adult influences and social bonding variables were related consistently to alcohol outcome expectancies among drinkers and non-drinkers. A bivariate relationship between alcohol advertising and alcohol expectancies was found among drinkers only. In the multivariate model, greater alcohol use by important adults predicted independently increased alcohol positivity among drinkers; greater perceived approval of alcohol use by parents and peers predicted diminished perceived potency of alcohol among non-drinkers. Advertisement exposure and social bonding variables were not independent predictors of alcohol expectancies in the multivariate model. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that attempts to alter adolescents' alcohol expectancies are likely to fail unless they address the influence of immediate social models on these beliefs.

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