Objective: Alcohol expectancies (AEs) are positively associated with drinking behaviors, whereas the use of protective behavioural strategies (PBS) is negatively related to alcohol outcomes among young adults. PBS have been shown to weaken relationships between some alcohol risk factors and alcohol outcomes. This study aimed to examine longitudinally the moderating effect of PBS on the relationships between AEs and alcohol outcomes among young adults.
Method: Participants (N = 188; 61.7% female) were U.S. young adults participating in a larger longitudinal study. Measures of PBS, AEs, alcohol use, and related consequences were used from the baseline and 12-month follow-up assessments.
Results: Negative binomial hurdle models found that PBS (total score) significantly moderated the relationship between positive AEs and consequences, such that among high school seniors endorsing higher positive AEs, those using more PBS in high school reported fewer negative consequences 1 year later. PBS (Manner of Drinking) also moderated the relationship between negative AEs and alcohol use, revealing the use of PBS in high school as having a protective function against later drinking among participants with high positive AEs. Last, PBS (Serious Harm Reduction) significantly moderated the associations between positive AEs and alcohol use and between negative AEs and consequences, such that participants with higher AEs and higher PBS use in high school were at greatest risk for drinking and experiencing negative consequences later.
Conclusions: Overall, these findings suggest that PBS use may be protective by weakening relationships between positive AEs and alcohol outcomes. Limitations and future directions are discussed.