The Effects Of Stress, Alcohol Outcome Expectancies, Gender, Coping St

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The Effects of Stress, Alcohol Outcome Expectancies, Gender, Coping Styles, and

Family Alcoholism on Alcohol Consumption


One large component of American popular culture today is alcohol. A

common stereotype for the effects of alcohol is that as a drug it acts as a

stress antagonist. This theory was introduced by Conger (1956) as the Tension

Reduction Hypothesis (TRW). It states that alcohol's sedative action on the

central nervous system serves to reduce tension, and because tension reduction

is reinforcing, people drink to escape it (Marlatt & Rehsenow, 1980). Why do we

drink, when do we drink, and how much do we drink? This research will determine

the correlation between total weekly consumption of alcohol and perceived stress,

alcohol outcome expectancies, gender, coping styles, and family history of

alcoholism among undergraduate students. Do people drink more or less when

stressed? Do alcohol outcome expectancies lead to higher or lower consumption?

Is a history of family alcoholism positively or negatively correlated to

personal consumption? Do the tested variables play mediating or moderating

roles in stress-related drinking? This research will determine the answers to

these questions, and determine the strength of the correlations, if any.


The main question that this statistical model will answer is as follows:

Is there any correlation between drinking and gender, alcohol expectancies,

family alcoholism, stress, and coping styles?


It has been demonstrated that significant differences exist between the

drinking patterns of men and women (Hilton, 1988). In a survey of US drinking

habits conducted in 1988 by the US National Center for Health Statistics, Dawson

and Archer (1992) showed that there are three areas illustrating gender

differences. The first is the actual number of male and female drinkers. The

study showed that 64% of men versus 41% of women were current drinkers. Second,

men were more likely to consume alcohol on a daily basis (17.5 grams of ethanol

per day versus 8.9 grams for women). Third, men were more likely to be

classified as heavy drinkers. In fact, when the classification measure of a

"heavy drinker" was changed from five drinks or more per day to nine drinks or

more per day the ration of male to female heavy drinkers increased by a factor

of 3.


Are the theories mentioned above about stress-induced drinking accurate?

There have been studies which disprove the Tension Reduction Hypothesis. For

instance, in a study by Conway, Vickers, Ward, and Rahe in 1981 it was found

that "the consumption of alcohol among Navy officers during periods of high job

demands was actually lower than the consumption during low-demand periods."

Additionally, some drinkers have been known to consider alcohol as a tension

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