The Long Arm of Expectancies: Adolescent Alcohol Expectancies Predict Adult Alcohol Use

Document Type



Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)

Publication Date



Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Aims: Alcohol expectancies are strong concurrent predictors of alcohol use and problems, but the current study addressed their unique power to predict from adolescence to midlife. Method: Long-term longitudinal data from the national British Cohort Study 1970 (N = 2146, 59.8% female) were used to predict alcohol use and misuse in the mid-30s by alcohol expectancies reported in adolescence. Results: Cohort members with more positive alcohol expectancies at age 16 reported greater alcohol quantity concurrently, increases in alcohol quantity relative to their peers between ages 16 and 35, and a higher likelihood of lifetime and previous year alcohol misuse at age 35, independent of gender, social class in family of origin, age of alcohol use onset, adolescent delinquent behavior and age 16 exam scores. Conclusions: Alcohol expectancies were strong proximal predictors of alcohol use and predicted relative change in alcohol use and misuse across two decades into middle adulthood.


Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Medical Council on Alcohol. All rights reserved.

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© 2009 Megan E. Patrick, Laura Wray-Lake , Andrea K. Finlay, Jennifer L. Maggs

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