expectancies (Christiansen et al., 1989; Christiansen et al., 1982; Chen et al., 1994; Grube et al., 1995; Jones et al., 2001; Smith et al., 1995; Wood et al., 1992; Goldberg et al., 2002).
Although children’s and adult’s alcohol expectancies are similar (Dunn and Goldman, 1996), younger children are more likely to report negative expectancies; perceptions of positive outcomes increase with age (Miller et al., 1990; Goldberg et al., 2002). Specific expectancies also differ by age: 12- to 14-year-olds rank reduced tension and impaired behavioral functioning highest; 15- to 16-year-olds cite enhanced social and physical pleasure and modified social and emotional behavior; and 17- to 19-year-olds cite enhanced sexual performance and increased power as top alcohol expectancies (Christiansen et al., 1982). There are also gender differences in alcohol expectations, with adolescent males perceiving more positive and fewer negative consequences of alcohol than do adolescent females. Although the relationship between quantity of alcohol use and social and physical outcomes was similar for adolescent males and females, the frequency of alcohol use may be associated with global positive effects, sexual enhancement, and pleasure for men, but reduced tension for women (Jones et al., 2001).
During adolescence, individuals are going through rapid physical, social, and cognitive changes. These enormous changes to body, friendship, and thinking about the world are juxtaposed against changing expectations for behavior and increases in need and opportunities for autonomy. The desire to be autonomous and to be granted more decision making opportunities increases with age (Steinberg and Cauffman, 1996) and occurs in tandem with several other changes that serve to increase adolescents’ desires for autonomy. First, the physical changes of puberty result in adolescents’ seeing themselves as more deserving of adult-like privileges and opportunities to make decisions. In addition, as adolescents mature physically and develop secondary sex characteristics, they look older and are presumed to be able to take on more adult-like roles and responsibilities. Second, increased time spent with peers leads to more experiences and comparison of others’ authority, power, and privileges. Third, cultural and societal beliefs suggest that adolescence is a time to practice adult roles. All of these factors serve to underscore the importance of autonomy from parents and push adolescents toward assuming more adult roles. In the United States, alcohol use is an important symbol of adult status.
The shift away from childhood and toward independence and adult roles is accompanied by a focus on peer acceptance and perceived norms in addition to parental standards. Adolescents need to develop their own sense of self or identity during this time, although expectations about the appro-