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Finney, & Gamble, 1982), it was found that individuals were more likely to relapse in situations which elicited unpleasant emotional states. Coping as a Moderating Factor of Stress The key to understanding the differential impact of avoidance and approach coping on drinking lies in the availability of an effective coping response to a given stressor (Cooper et al. , 1992). By definition, people who utilize approach coping mechanisms to deal with their stress, engage in concrete problem solving which serves to actively reduce the amount of stress. By contrast, people who rely on avoidance coping may manage to reduce their distress, but they tend to do so by distracting themselves from the stress. Therefore, it is not surprising that drinking should appeal more to those who

predominately use avoidance coping, because the consumption of alcohol serves as a substitute action which can distract from the stress. When viewed from a social learning perspective (Abrams & Niaura, 1987), it can be seen that “alcohol use serves as a general coping mechanism invoked when other presumably more effective coping responses are unavailable” (Cooper et al. , 1992; P. 140). Evidence to support this idea comes from studies (i.e., Higgins & Marlatt, 1975; Hull & young 1983; Marlatt, Kosturn, & Lang, 1975) which have investigated drinking in response to negative affects, when no coping alternative was present. For instance, Marlatt et al. (1975) have shown that drinkers who were provoked and were unable to retaliate drank significantly more at a

subsequent taste rating task than drinkers who had the option to retaliate (Cooper et al. , 1988). Differential Expectancies About Drinking Alcohol outcome expectancies (AOE) can be thought of as the beliefs people hold about the effects of drinking (Goldman, Brown, & Christiansen, 1987). These expectancies first develop in childhood as indirect learning experiences (e.g., media, family modeling, peer influence ) and, as a result of increased direct experiences with the pharmacological effects of alcohol, become more refined (Christiansen, Goldman, & Inn, 1982; Christiansen & Goldman, 1983; Christiansen, Goldman, & Brown 1985; and Miller, Smith, & Goldman, 1990). The expectancies that people hold about alcohol have been shown to predict alcohol consumption in

a variety of settings (Goldman, Brown, & Christiansen 1987). Brown, Goldman, Inn, and Anderson (1980) have shown that light drinkers typically hold global expectancies about alcohol (i.e. alcohol affects multiple factors), whereas heavy drinkers typically hold more specific expectancies, such as alcohol’s ability to increase sexual and aggressive behavior. Furthermore, Brown (1985a) has shown that people who hold the expectancy that alcohol enhances social experience are less likely to be problem drinkers than people who drink with the expectancy of tension reduction. It is important to note, however, that AOE may “vary with learning context, personal characteristics of the drinker, amount of alcohol consumed, and other addiction risk factors” (Brown, 1993; P. 58).

Expectancies as a Mediating Factor of Stress Although it is well established that AOE differentially predict drinking behavior (Brown, 1993), very little is known about how they exert their effects. To date, most of the research suggests that AOE (gender specific) directly predict alcohol consumption and, as such, are thought to play a mediational role (Brown, 1993). Intuitively, it makes sense that people who hold the expectancy that alcohol can alleviate their stress should drink more than people who do not hold this expectancy. However, little research has been conducted thus far to support this contention. Prior to Cooper et al. (1992), only one study (McKirnan & Peterson, 1988) investigated the role of expectancies in stress-induced drinking. The study tested a stress-

vulnerability model among homosexual men, who show culturally specific stressors and vulnerability (i.e., homophobic discrimination). It was found that tension reduction expectancies significantly predicted drinking among individuals who experienced “negative affectivity” stress (i.e., low self-esteem). Although the Mckirnan and Peterson (1988) study found that expectancies exacerbated stress, the utility of the findings is limited because of the use of a non-representative sample of gay males, and non-standard measures of stress (Cooper et al. , 1992). The Synthesis of Gender, Coping & Expectancies in Stress-Related Drinking As was discussed previously, gender, coping, and expectancies are thought to play a significant role in stress-related drinking. Nevertheless, the