Expectancy challenge and drinking reduction: experimental evidence for a mediational process

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1993 Apr;61(2):344-53. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.61.2.344.


Substantial correlational evidence supports a causal (mediational) interpretation of alcohol expectancy operation, but definitive support requires a true experimental test. Thus, moderately to heavily drinking male college students were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 conditions in a pre-post design: Expectancy challenge (designed to manipulate expectancy levels), "traditional" information, and assessment-only control. Expectancy challenge produced significant drinking decreases, compared with the other 2 groups. Decreases in measured expectancies paralleled drinking decreases in the challenge condition. Significant increases in alcohol knowledge in the traditional program were not associated with decreased drinking. These experimental findings support a causal (mediational) interpretation of expectancy operation. The implications for a cognitive (memory) model of expectancies and for prevention and intervention programs for problem drinking and alcoholism are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Set, Psychology*