Expectancies as Mediators of the Effects of Social Influences and Alcohol Knowledge on Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Prospective Analysis

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Expectancies play an important role in the generation of adolescent alcohol use. However, few studies have precisely elucidated their role when specified with other prominent measures of social influences, which may also independently promote alcohol use. Three-year panel data and path-analytic techniques were used to test a model positing that social reinforcement expectancies mediate the effects of perceived friends' alcohol use, friends' alcohol attitudes, and knowledge of near-term health effects and alcohol prevalence on both contemporaneous and subsequent alcohol involvement. Evidence of mediation was obtained with both cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. Perceived peer norms had a direct effect on alcohol use, and knowledge of normative alcohol use had a unique long-term protective influence on later alcohol use. Findings are discussed in terms of a 2-pronged prevention model that (a) integrates principles of social learning theory with expectancy-based, cognitive–behavioral change and (b) emphasizes dissemination of age-appropriate alcohol information in programs that aim to reduce alcohol use.

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