The influence of cognitive, affective, and developmental factors on alcohol consumption by adolescents and young adults

Tara L Kuther, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study tested a model of alcohol consumption during adolescence and early adulthood that included the following rational and developmental-contextual predictors: attitudes about the positive and negative consequences of alcohol consumption, self-efficacy, subjective parental and peer norms, and emotional autonomy. The model of contributors toward alcohol consumption was tested with a sample of 87 eleventh grade, 105 college freshmen, and 107 college junior students.^ Multisample path analyses examined the fit of the hypothesized model across the three age groups and tested for age differences in each of the path coefficients. Each of the variables predicted alcohol consumption, directly or indirectly; the model accounted for 46% to 76% of the variance in self-reported alcohol consumption. Age differences and trends emerged such that, with increasing age, attitudes about the positive consequences of drinking and self-efficacy were less important predictors of alcohol consumption. Among college students, attitudes about the negative consequences of drinking were indirectly and positively associated with self-reported alcohol consumption, as mediated by self-efficacy.^ These results suggest that during adolescence, decisions to consume alcohol are rational, based on the consideration of the positive consequences of drinking and one's sense of control, while discounting the negative consequences. Youth are aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption, but drink despite their awareness, perhaps coping with the contradiction between their knowledge and behavior by perceiving the behavior as uncontrollable. Rational decision components are not adequate to explain alcohol consumption, as developmental-contextual factors, such as the perceived behavior and attitudes about alcohol consumption by parents and peers, and emotional autonomy, emerged as significant predictors in the present study. A model integrating rational and life-span developmental perspectives may aid in theoretically and empirically accounting for alcohol consumption during adolescence and early adulthood. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Tara L Kuther, "The influence of cognitive, affective, and developmental factors on alcohol consumption by adolescents and young adults" (January 1, 1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9825845.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9825845

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