Title

Regulating consequences : the effects of regulatory focus and alcohol expectancies on alcohol consumption in a peer context

Date of Award

2016

Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology, General

Department

Department of Psychology

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Jackson Goodnight

Abstract

Alcohol use is a pervasive problem among college students, with 59% of full-time students reporting alcohol use and 39% reporting binge drinking (SAMHSA, 2014). Although peers are known to influence alcohol consumption, the potential influence of personality characteristics are less well known. This study examined the role of regulatory focus and alcohol expectancies on the association between peers' consequences for alcohol use and participants' alcohol consumption. Exposure to peers' experience of consequences for alcohol use was expected to have an increased association with participants' expectancies and consumption when it was congruent with participants' regulatory focus. Prevention focus was expected to result in an increased negative response to negative consequences for peer alcohol use and promotion focus was expected to result in an increased positive response to positive consequences for peer alcohol use. The current study examined the potential effect of this person-situation congruence by having participants fill out a series of questionnaires online using SurveyMonkey. These questionnaires included measures of positive and negative consequences for peer alcohol use, positive and negative alcohol expectancies, regulatory focus, participants' own alcohol consumption, and perception of friends' alcohol use. Neither positive nor negative alcohol expectancies were found to mediate the association between consequences for peers' alcohol use and one's own drinking. Promotion focus was also not found to moderate the association of peers' positive consequences for alcohol use and one's own use or the association between peers' positive consequences for alcohol use and positive alcohol expectancies. On its own, prevention focus did moderate the association between negative consequences for peers' alcohol use and one's own drinking, such that it enhanced the inverse association between negative consequences and alcohol consumption. Prevention focus also moderated the association between negative consequences for peers' alcohol use and negative alcohol expectancies in an unexpected way, with participants with a higher level of prevention focus being less influenced by peers' consequences. These results suggest that there may be additional confounding variables that are not included in these models. Future studies should consider alternative methods of data collection and research designs, including experimental or quasi-experimental designs.

Keywords

College students Alcohol use, Regulatory focus (Psychology), Motivation (Psychology), Personality and motivation, Peer pressure, College students Alcohol use Prevention, Psychology, Personality Psychology, Social Psychology, alcohol, regulatory focus, alcohol expectancies, peer influence, susceptibility, personality

Rights Statement

Copyright 2016, author

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