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alcohol use (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). More specific expectancies, such as enhanced sexual feelings, power, and reduced tension have been reported by those with greater drinking experiences, while youth with little or no alcohol experiences have more global expectancies of increased pleasure (Christiansen et al., 1982). As one gains more experience with alcohol, positive outcomes are reinforced and predict future drinking behaviors (Goldberg et al., 2002; Jones et al., 2001). Furthermore, positive drinking-related expectancies increase and negative expectations for risks decrease among adolescents with more drinking experiences (Halpern-Felsher et al., 2000; Goldberg et al., 2002).


Drinking refusal self-efficacy, borrowed from Bandura’s (1986, 1997) concept of general self-efficacy, refers to one’s belief in her or his ability to resist urges or social pressures to drink, to drink in particular situations, or to consume large amounts of alcohol at one time. Adolescents with more positive self-efficacy are less likely to drink or drink excessively (Oei et al., 1998; Webb and Baer, 1995), and those with fewer refusal skills are more likely to drink (Hays and Ellickson, 1996). Refusal skills may be a better predictor of problem drinking than alcohol expectancies, especially for heavy or frequent alcohol use (Connor et al., 2000; Oei et al., 1998). Given that adolescents are more susceptible to peer pressure, it stands to reason that they will have lower drinking refusal skills. However, there is evidence that adolescents can be taught drinking refusal self-efficacy skills and that such skills can then result in less substance use (Bell et al., 1993; Ellickson et al., 1993).


As noted in the previous chapter, the highest rate of both heavy drinking and frequent heavy drinking is found in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. In addition, if adolescents between the ages of 14 and 20 drink alcohol, they are more likely to report heavy drinking than other drinking patterns (National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 2001). These findings suggest that there may be something about the context of youth drinking that results in this particular pattern of alcohol consumption. Indeed, macrolevel and microlevel contextual factors are likely to contribute to both the number of underage drinkers and their patterns of alcohol use.

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