The Psychometric Evaluation and Validation of a Measure Assessing Pharmacological and Social Alcohol Expectancies in Adolescents

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Mcmurray, Megan Victoria
Alcohol-related Cognitions; Measure Development; Risk Factors; Alcohol Use Disorders; Adolescence
thesis / dissertation description
Extending prior alcohol expectancy measurement research, this researcher (McMurray, 2013) recently developed the Pharmacological and Social Alcohol Expectancy Scale (PSAES). The PSAES is the only alcohol expectancy measure to date that provides adequate coverage of both social expectancies and the anticipated positive pharmacological effects resulting from alcohol consumption, and was developed and validated in a sample of young adults (aged 18-23). Research has shown that adolescents at high risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD) hold higher expectations of reward from alcohol, suggesting that expectancy patterns may help distinguish at-risk youth. Building upon the previous PSAES validation study, the primary purpose of the current study was to examine whether a version of the PSAES adapted for adolescents (the PSAES-A) provided a valid measure of pharmacological and social alcohol expectancies in adolescents. Results demonstrated that a respecified model of the PSAES-A adequately fit the proposed two-dimensional factor structure and provided justification for the items representing two distinguishable domains: social and pharmacological. The PSAES-A was then used to 1) examine patterns of alcohol expectancies and drinking behaviors in adolescents and 2) investigate whether risk (e.g., sensation seeking personality) was differentially associated with pharmacological and social expectancies in adolescents. Results indicated that pharmacological and social expectancies were differentially associated with various drinking behaviors (e.g., quantity, frequency) and that sensation seeking was significantly associated with both social and pharmacological expectancies in adolescents. The fact that alcohol expectancies differentially predicted quantity and frequency of drinking suggests that different expectancy processes affect adolescent’s decisions about how often they drink versus how much alcohol they consume on a given occasion. Implications and limitations are discussed.