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Expectancies As A Predictor Of Adolescent Alcohol Use

Expectancies As A Predictor Of Adolescent Alcohol Use


This paper examines the use of an idea referred to as expectancy as a predictor of teen alcohol use. Expectancies are concepts that a society reinforces which go on to influence a person's behavior. Current clinical and field studies show that alcohol expectancies are reasonably accurate tools in estimating future drinking patterns. This paper sets out to determine the practical applications of this knowledge in the real classroom.


Prior to the early 1960s, virtually no clinical studies were available on the topic of teen drinking, as literature mostly focused on negative social and moral implications of the activity (Maddox and McCall, 1964). Contrary to somewhat popular notion, however, adolescent drinking is not unique on to the last few decades. In fact, the best indicators show that "drinking among youth has been a longstanding phenomenon" that has shown no significant change over the course of the last 120 years (Barnes, 1982). In the sixties, the issue grew in prominence probably due to the rise of the counterculture and an increase in teen drinking and driving accidents. A number of pioneering social scientists set out to determine basic information about the commonalty and frequency of alcohol use in this age group. Though specific data varied from study to study due to methodology and demographics, a striking picture emerged that "alcohol use is very prevalent among teenagers and young adults." In fact, Barnes (1982) co

Once research findings established the basic foundations, further questions soon arose on the psychological reasons behind the increase in consumption. Though the answers are still not definitive by any means, a few commonly accepted theories arose. Teens almost consistently report one of three reasons for drinking: partying, self-expression, and anxiety (Maddox and McCall, 1964). None of this information, however, is of particular alarm. Regardless of the reason, most adolescent drinkers consume only occasionally and generally responsibly (Barnes, 1982; Finn, 1979). In fact, a few authors contend that teenage drinking can be a fairly normal step in the process of identity development (Finn, 1979). "Drinking," claims Maddox and McCall (1964), "is important for validating their self-conceptions as adults or their claims to adult status." A great deal of controversy exists on whether time spent with peers in reckless activities such as drinking is a positive aspect of the socialization process as well.


In the late 1970s...

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Category:   Social Issues

Length:   8 pages (1,866 words)

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