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The role of alcohol expectancies in the relationship between alcohol use and social anxiety in college students: A social -cognitive framework

Nicole Dishuk McKeon, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Research indicates that alcohol use among college students is a growing public health concern that is associated with numerous problems and consequences. Among other influential factors, anxiety reduction and improved social functioning have continually been regarded as motivating factors in drinking. Additionally, research investigating alcohol outcome expectancies in relation to drinking behavior and social anxiety suggests that expectancies may moderate the relationship between social anxiety and alcohol use. The purpose of the present study, therefore, was to examine the relationship between drinking behavior and social anxiety in a college student sample, and to investigate the role that alcohol expectancies play in this association. Participants were 697 college students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Students completed a demographic questionnaire, a measure of socially desirable responding, measures of drinking behavior, measures of social anxiety, and measures of alcohol outcome expectancies. Statistical analyses addressed three research questions. First, the nature of the relationship between social anxiety and drinking behavior for this sample was investigated. Consistent with the research hypothesis, results revealed significant relationships between measures of social anxiety and measures of drinking behavior; contrary to numerous studies and reports indicative of high rates of comorbidity, however, results from this study suggested an inverse relationship between social anxiety and drinking behavior. Second, responses on a general alcohol expectancy questionnaire were compared with responses on a domain-specific alcohol expectancy scale in order to examine the relationship between these two classes of expectancies, as well as to determine the relationship of each to social anxiety. In support of the second hypothesis, several of the subscales of both alcohol expectancy measures which were hypothesized to have a significant relationship with social anxiety did indeed demonstrate such an association. Third, the question of whether or not alcohol expectancies moderate the association between drinking behavior and social anxiety was examined. Results suggested that despite the ability of various alcohol expectancies to significantly predict the drinking variables, alcohol expectancies only served in a moderator capacity with regard to the relationship between social anxiety and binge drinking frequency as well as social anxiety and occurrence of alcohol-related problems. Clinical implications of these results and suggestions for future research are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

McKeon, Nicole Dishuk, "The role of alcohol expectancies in the relationship between alcohol use and social anxiety in college students: A social -cognitive framework" (2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3180806.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3180806

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