This longitudinal study provided a comprehensive examination of age-related changes in alcohol outcome expectancies, subjective evaluation of alcohol outcomes, and automatic alcohol associations in early adolescence. A community sample (52% female, 75% White/non-Hispanic) was assessed annually for 3 years (mean age at the first assessment = 11.6 years). Results from growth modeling suggested that perceived likelihood of positive outcomes increased and that subjective evaluations of these outcomes were more positive with age. Perceived likelihood of negative outcomes declined with age. Automatic alcohol associations were assessed with an Implicit Association Task (IAT), and were predominantly negative, but these negative associations weakened with age. High initial levels of perceived likelihood of positive outcomes at age 11 were associated with escalation of drinking. Perceived likelihood of negative outcomes was associated with low risk for drinking at age 11, but not with changes in drinking. Increases in positive evaluations of positive outcomes were associated with increases in alcohol use. Overall, findings suggest that at age 11, youth maintain largely negative attitudes and perceptions about alcohol, but with the transition into adolescence, there is a shift toward a more neutral or ambivalent view of alcohol. Some features of this shift are associated with escalation of drinking. Our findings point to the importance of delineating multiple aspects of alcohol information processing for extending cognitive models of alcohol use to the early stages of drinking.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health