Objective: To investigate the psychological processes that underlie the relation between exposure to alcohol use in media and adolescent alcohol use.
Design: The design consisted of a structural equation modeling analysis of data from four waves of a longitudinal, nationally representative, random-digit dial telephone survey of adolescents in the United States.
Main outcome measures: The main outcome measures were adolescent alcohol consumption and willingness to use alcohol. Tested mediators were alcohol-related norms, prototypes, expectancies, and friends' use.
Results: Alcohol prototypes, expectancies, willingness, and friends' use of alcohol (but not perceived prevalence of alcohol use among peers) were significant mediators of the relation between movie alcohol exposure and alcohol consumption, even after controlling for demographic, child, and family factors associated with both movie exposure and alcohol consumption.
Conclusion: Established psychological and interpersonal predictors of alcohol use mediate the effects of exposure to alcohol use in movies on adolescent alcohol consumption. The findings suggest that exposure to movie portrayals may operate through similar processes as other social influences, highlighting the importance of considering these exposures in research on adolescent risk behavior.