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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Longitudinal associations between attitudes towards binge drinking and alcohol-free drinks, and binge drinking behavior in adolescence

Alcohol attitudes are often considered an important predecessor of drinking behavior, although the literature is equivocal. Lately, attention has turned to enhancing positive cognitions on alcoholic-free drinks to discourage heavy drinking. 

The current study was the first to longitudinally examine associations between attitudes towards binge drinking and alcohol-free drinks and binge drinking behavior in a cross-lagged path model in Mplus. Participants were 293 adolescents (131 boys, Mage = 16.1 years) who filled in two online questionnaires with a six month interval. 

Binge drinking behavior and attitudes towards binge drinking and alcohol-free drinks were all significantly correlated at both waves. The multivariate model, however, showed that only higher levels of binge drinking at T1 were prospectively related to more positive binge drinking attitudes at T2, and not vice versa. Analyses were controlled for sex, educational level, and age. 

Findings discard the Theory of Planned Behavior, but rather seem consistent with the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, i.e., adolescents may adapt their cognitions to their behavior. 

More longitudinal research with several time points and over a longer period of time is needed to further examine the development of attitudes and drinking behavior.

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