Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Goldman, Mark S.

Keywords

bars, drinking, college, cognitions, evaluation

Abstract

Studies of alcohol expectancies have been equivocal regarding the existence of gender differences. A review of past studies suggested variables that could be useful for future studies such as investigating context-specific expectancies. The current study was designed to investigate the influence of context and item content on gender differences in expectancies. Undergraduate students who reported going to bars once a month or more (N = 321) completed an expectancy measure either while imagining themselves in a bar situation (Context condition) or with no contextual instructions (No Context condition). The expectancy measure consisted of expectancies that were "general" (Social and Tension Reduction expectancies) and those developed to be more "specific" to a bar context (Sexual Activity and Attention expectancies).

It was expected that context and gender would interact so that gender differences would occur only for the endorsement of "specific" expectancies when context was specified; however, the gender x condition interaction was not significant for any type of expectancy and there were few main effects for condition. Main effects for gender were found partially following the hypothesized pattern. Men were more likely to endorse Sexual Activity expectancies, as expected, but women were not more likely to endorse Attention expectancies. Also as expected, men and women equally endorsed Social expectancies; however, women endorsed Tension Reduction expectancies more strongly than, not equally to, men. Additional gender differences were found for the evaluation of expectancies and when defining ambiguous expectancy terms ("hook up" and "sexual attention").

The findings of this study offer some evidence that the relationship between expectancies and context of drinking and the interpretation of items may be useful areas for continued research. There was also some suggestion that men and women endorse, evaluate, and interpret sexually related expectancies differently. It may be useful to further examine whether these different responses relate to differences in sexual behavior, sexual vocabulary, or the ways that men and women respond to sexually related items on questionnaires. Information on the ways that men and women endorse and evaluate expectancy items could be incorporated into prevention or intervention efforts to make them more successful.

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