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Expectations of need satisfaction and drinking patterns of college students



Expectations of need satisfaction and drinking patterns of college students



Quart J Stud Alc 29(1 A): 101-116



The hypothesis that alcohol use may serve as an alternative behavior for the attainment of goals otherwise unattainable or for coplng with the failure to attain valued goals was studied. In 38 men and 50 women (mean age 19.2 years) from sophomore-level psychology classes at the University of Colorado who volunteered to participate in a drinking study. Expectations of attaining need satisfaction in the areas of achievement and affection were measured by means of a 30-item questionnaire. Test-retest reliability of the questionnaire was above .90, and significant correlations with external criteria of achievement and affection provided validity evidence. Drinking behavior was assessed by questionnaire in small groups of 20: men reported greater intake and more drunkenness and drinking-related complications. Analyses of the relationship between expectations of need satisfaction and drinking behavior lent initial support to the hypothesis that the lower the expectations of need satisfaction, the greater the recourse to alcohol and alcohol-related consequences, especially among women. Subgroup analyses considering both need areas simultaneously provided additional support; the group with low expectations in both need areas had the highest drinking behavior scores; results were more consistent among women. The functions attributed to alcohol use were then studied. A list of meanings or psychological functions of drinking was constructed comprising 4 separate categories: positive-social, conforming-social, psychophysiological and personality-effects functions. Significant negative relationships were obtained between expectations of need satisfaction and the degree to which personality-effects functions were attributed to the subjects" use of alcohol. Results were clearest in women. The degree to which personality-effects functions characterize alcohol use was related to amount of intake, drunkenness and complications, especially in women. The study provided evidence for linking low expectations of need satisfaction to patterns of drinking behavior among college youth. That link is mediated by the psychological functions attributed to alcohol use. Drinking may serve as an alternative means to goal attainment or as a way of coplng with failure to attain valued goals.

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