Development of alcohol expectancies and early alcohol use in children and adolescents: A systematic review Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE:Developmental changes in alcohol expectancies (AE) have been proposed to lead to alcohol use initiation and later alcohol use in adolescence. This systematic review aims to provide longitudinal evidence of the development of AE and the relation of AE to alcohol outcomes from childhood to late adolescence (4-18 years old). METHODS:A computer-assisted search of relevant articles identified 1602 studies, of which 43 studies (conducted between 1996 and 2016) were selected. RESULTS:First, negative AE decline and positive AE increase in early adolescence. Moreover, alcohol use (initiation) seems to strongly influence changes in AE. Second, AE predict alcohol use initiation and drinking patterns over time. Third, longitudinal predictors of AE could be divided into individual predictors (i.e., alcohol-related cognitions, psychopathology, and genetics) and environmental predictors (i.e., family, peer, and media influences). Lastly, the results indicated that AE function as mediators of the relations between the various individual and environmental predictors and adolescent's alcohol use. CONCLUSIONS:Alcohol expectancies form an important framework through which drinking behavior can be explained over time. Due to the diverse findings on the predictors of AE, future longitudinal studies should further clarify the factors that are essential in the development of AE and adolescent's later alcohol use.


publication date

  • 2018