Category: X - Other - Not Fitting Better Elsewhere

PS11- #A29 - College Women’s Drinking Decisions in Heterosocial Situations

Saturday, Nov 18
12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Alcohol | College Students | Risky Behaviors

College women’s heavy drinking is associated with risk of sexual coercion (Abbey, 2002), so studying their in-the-moment drinking decisions in heterosocial situations may help develop interventions to diminish heavy drinking.  Parallel to the Norris et al (2004) model of sexual decision-making, we hypothesize that a woman forms situational drinking intentions by balancing perceptions of potential sexual coercion risk versus her current happiness. Additionally, her familiarity with the man positively associates with decisions to drink more (Zawacki et al. 2011; Noel et al. 2016). The current study expands on this research by examining if alcohol-related expectancies (Brown, 1985; Rohsenow, 1983) further enhance predictions of the woman’s in-the moment drinking. Heterosexual undergraduate women (N=149; 18-34, M= 18.47, SD= 1.46, 86.3% Caucasian, 79.6% freshmen) completed the Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire-R (Rohsenow, 1983) measuring 8 beliefs about alcohol’s effects. They then projected themselves into 6 validated heterosocial risk scenarios; 3 with “Familiar” men (perhaps dated once or twice) and 3 with “Unfamiliar” men (just met) (Noel et al., 2016), and rated their “Happiness and excitement,” sexual coercion risk and projected drinking amount (in standard drinks) in each scenario. Separate hierarchical regressions for Familiar versus Unfamiliar situations showed that the full model (Happiness, Risk and Alcohol Expectancies) predicted the intended number of drinks in situations with both Familiar (R²= .393, F(10, 138)= 8.945, p< .001) and Unfamiliar men (R²= .390, F(10, 138)= 8.837, p< .001). More specifically however, for Familiar men, Happiness ratings (β= .195, p< .01), and expectancies for social expressiveness (β= .145, p< .05), sexual enhancement (β= .10, p< .05) and social/physical pleasure (β= .125, p< .05) positively predicted intended drinks, but with Unfamiliar men only happiness (β= .223, p< .001) and social/physical pleasure (β= .137, p< .05) positively predicted drinking intentions. Results suggest that contrary to the model predictions, risk perception is not associated with diminished drinking, while happiness and the expectancy of greater pleasure (social/physical) predict women’s intended drinking in heterosocial situations. Moreover, with Familiar men, beliefs about alcohol’s effects on social expressiveness and sexual enhancement predict drinking even more precisely.  Findings suggest increased focus on their positive alcohol associations may benefit efforts to diminish women’s drinking in potentially risky heterosocial situations.

Olivia Bolts

The University of North Carolina Wilmington

Kristina C. Murphy

The University of North Carolina Wilmington
Wilmington, North Carolina

Nora E. Noel

Professor of Psychology
University of North Carolina Wilmington