Category: Addictive Behaviors
Ham and colleagues (2011; 2013) found that, when alcohol outcome expectancies (AOE) are considered within three contexts (i.e., convivial, negative coping, personal-intimate), individuals with elevated social anxiety who have higher levels of positive AOE (e.g., I would feel peaceful) or lower levels of negative AOE (e.g., I would feel moody) in a convivial context report increased levels of general alcohol-related problems, and that the association between AOE and alcohol use frequency varies based on the context in which AOE and alcohol use are considered. These studies assessed general alcohol use, not within-context use (i.e., how often they drank in a setting). The current study addresses this limitation by examining how negative and positive AOE will differentially predict drinking in-context, controlling for social avoidance.
Participants were 1,015 young adults (Mage=19.41, 58.9% female, 87.4% white) were drawn from psychology courses at a mid-southern university. Participants completed measures of social anxiety (Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale), context-specific AOE (Comprehensive Effects of Alcohol, modified for three contexts; Ham et al., 2011), and context-specific alcohol use frequency (modified Drinking Context Scale; O’Hare, 2001) via an online survey.
For negative coping contexts results indicated that both social anxiety and higher levels of negative AOEs predicted increased drinking frequency. For convivial contexts, the relationship between social anxiety and drinking frequency was moderated by positive AOEs. Those high in convivial positive AOEs showed a positive correlation between social anxiety and drinking frequency, while those low in these positive AOEs showed a negative correlation. Additionally, those holding greater negative AOE in this context reported increased convivial drinking frequency. For personal-intimate contexts, positive AOE in a personal-intimate context were associated with decreased drinking frequency, while negative AOE predicted increased drinking frequency. There was an interaction between social anxiety and negative AOE in personal-intimate settings, indicating that those holding greater negative AOEs showed a positive correlation between social anxiety and drinking frequency, while those low in negative AOE did not.
These findings highlight the clinical importance of both AOE and drinking frequency in-context rather than globally. Socially anxious individuals may be at particular risk for alcohol-related problems depending on the particular context(s) in which they drink. Future interventions may benefit from targeting clients’ AOE and drinking behavior in-context, as the impact of in-context AOE on the relationship between social anxiety and drinking frequency in-context can differ significantly.
Kyle Jackson– Clinical Psychology Graduate Student, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Lauren Hurd– Graduate Student, University of Arkansas
Ryan Grant– University of Arkansas
Josh Upshaw– University of Arkansas
Lindsay Ham– Associate Professor, University of Arkansas
Byron Zamboanga– Professor, Smith College
Clinical Psychology Graduate Student
University of Arkansas