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Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

Selection and socialization of drinking among young adult dating, cohabiting, and married partners

Jacquelyn D. Wiersma, Judith L. Fischer, H. Harrington Cleveland, Alan Reifman and Kitty S. Harris Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 2011 28: 182 originally published online 18 November 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0265407510380083

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Journal of Social and Personal R <a href=e l at i o n s hi ps http://spr.sagepub.com/ Selection and socialization of drinking among young adult dating, cohabiting, and married partners Jacquelyn D. Wiersma, Judith L. Fischer, H. Harrington Cleveland, Alan Reifman and Kitty S. Harris Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 2011 28: 182 originally published online 18 November 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0265407510380083 The online version of this article can be found at: http://spr.sagepub.com/content/28/2/182 Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: International Association for Relationship Research Additional services and information for Journal of Social and Personal Relationships can be found at: Email Alerts: http://spr.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://spr.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Citations: http://spr.sagepub.com/content/28/2/182.refs.html >> Version of Record - Mar 30, 2011 OnlineFirst Version of Record - Nov 18, 2010 What is This? Downloaded from spr.sagepub.com at Alexandru Ioan Cuza on June 7, 2012 " id="pdf-obj-0-31" src="pdf-obj-0-31.jpg">

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Selection and socialization of drinking among young adult dating, cohabiting, and married partners

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 28(2) 182–200

ª The Author(s) 2010

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Jacquelyn D. Wiersma 1 , Judith L. Fischer 2 , H. Harrington Cleveland 3 , Alan Reifman 2 , and Kitty S. Harris 2

Abstract

This study examines associations among adolescent drinking, young adult drinking, and romantic partner drinking through selection and socialization processes in young adult dating, cohabiting, and marital relationships. Hierarchical regression analyses, using data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n ¼ 1132), demonstrated significant selection and socialization effects for young adult romantic partner drinking. Moderating effects indicated that romantic partner drinking significantly predicted young adult drinking within dating and cohabiting relationships, but not within married rela- tionships. Both young adult women and men had positive associations between their own and partners’ drinking, but this association was significantly stronger for males. Continuing to study the effects of romantic partners on risky behaviors during adoles- cence and young adults is warranted.

Keywords

alcohol use, cohabitation, dating, marriage, romantic relationships, selection,

socialization, young adults

1 University of Arkansas, USA 2 Texas Tech University, USA 3 The Pennsylvania State University, USA

Corresponding author:

Jacquelyn D. Wiersma, School of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Arkansas 118 HOEC,

Fayetteville, AR 72701-1201 USA Email: jwiersma@uark.edu

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Heavy and problematic drinking by young adults poses serious public health threats, putting individuals at risk. Alcohol is a factor in many young adult injuries, physical assaults, sexual assaults (Hingson, Heeren, Zakocs, Kopstein, & Wechsler, 2002), and, most notably, traffic fatalities (Yi, Williams, & Smothers, 2004). Previous studies on young adult drinking behaviors focused on myriad factors, including individual char- acteristics (e.g., sensation seeking; Magid, MacLean, & Colder, 2007), the social context (e.g., exposure to parental and peer drinking; Fromme & Ruela, 1994; Poelen, Scholte, Willemsen, Boomsma, & Engels, 2007), and college environments (Arnett, 2005). Noticeably absent is consideration of romantic relationships. Given that young adult romantic and alcohol-use experiences are formative life choices, understanding these experiences and how they are related are important tasks. It is important to understand late adolescents’ and young adults’ development and well-being (Paul, Poole, & Jakubowyc, 1998) and the central role romantic relationships play in that development (Gilmartin, 2005). Drinking behaviors (Fischer, Fitzpatrick, & Cleveland, 2007) and the congruence (or discrepancy) of couple drinking patterns for married (Roberts & Leonard, 1998) and dating couples (Wiersma, Fischer, & Fitzpatrick, 2009) affect relationship quality. Here, we consider selection and socialization effects as part of a larger endeavor to better understand associations between alcohol use and young adults’ romantic partnerships. After considering selection and socialization, we discuss these social processes on young adult drinking. Relationship type (i.e., dating, cohabiting, married) and gender are believed to form important interpersonal contexts for couple drinking.

Selection and socialization processes

Social learning theory (Bandura, 1977, 1986) illustrates how selection and socialization combine to influence young adults’ romantic relationships and alcohol use. Romantic relationships may predict young adult drinking through identification, interaction, and imitation processes in acquiring new and reinforcing old alcohol-use behaviors (Bandura, 1969; Bandura & Walters, 1963). Similarity in peer and romantic relationship includes two processes: selection and socialization. Selection refers to the influence of individual characteristics that attract adolescents and young adults toward particular experiences or people (Ennett & Bauman, 1994; Kandel, 1978; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Socialization refers to the influences of experiences or people on the individual (e.g., Kandel, 1978; Pascarella and Terenzini, 1991).

Selection effects

Selection effects for alcohol use appear for adolescent peer groups (Ennett & Bauman, 1994; Fisher & Bauman, 1988; Kandel, 1978) and young adult peer groups (McCabe, Schulenberg, & Johnston, 2005; Reifman, Watson, & McCourt, 2006). In peer selection, individuals choose and keep friends whose behaviors and beliefs are similar to their own (Sieving, Perry, & Williams, 2000). Considerable research has explored who befriends whom in childhood and adolescence. In Kandel’s (1978) research performed over a school year, some friendships formed at the beginning of the year had many prior

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behavioral similarities, including drug use. Information from stable friendships, friends-to-be, and former friends allowed Kandel to examine similarities and divergences in drug use before friendships formed, during friendships, and after the friendship died. Adolescents coordinate their friendship choices and behaviors by breaking off friendships dissimilar in drug behaviors and keeping friendships similar in drug behaviors, because adolescents enjoy affiliating with similar peers (see Newcomb, 1961). Using longitudinal social network analyses, Ennett and Bauman (1994) and Fisher and Bauman (1988) found that smokers and drinkers (compared with non-smokers and non-drinkers) were more likely to acquire smoker and drinker friends. Similarities between individuals and their peers’ drinking appear because individuals seek out peers whose behaviors and beliefs are consistent with their own (Bullers, Cooper, & Russell, 2001). As individuals transition into young adulthood, heavy drinkers, compared to less heavy drinkers, are more likely to select peers who drink at similar levels (Parra, Krull, & Sher, 2007). McCabe et al. (2005) concluded that greater alcohol use precedes entrance into peer groups, such as sororities and fraternities. Using a three-wave panel design, Reifman et al. (2006) concluded that college students’ drinking appeared to be driven by dropping and adding new friends into their peer group/network. Students’ earlier drinking predicted their networks’ later average drinking. Thus, selecting and deselect- ing ‘‘drinking buddies’’ occurred for individuals and their peer groups (Reifman et al., 2006). ‘‘Drinking buddies’’ can be extended to ‘‘drinking partnerships’’, where individ- uals select and deselect romantic partners based on drinking.

Socialization effects

Socialization includes approval of drinking and having the same interest in drinking, which can encourage continued behavior (Bandura, 1977). Socialization effects for alcohol consumption appear among peer groups in adolescence (Kandel, 1978; Wills & Cleary, 1999) and young adulthood (Lo & Globetti, 1995; McCabe et al., 2005; Reifman et al., 2006). Socialization also occurs for adolescent friends who shared common drug use, and socialization effects increased as the length of association between friends continued (Kandel, 1978). Among stable friends, similarity increased over time and was highest when partners reciprocated friendships (Kandel, 1978). Thus, these stable friends influence each other over time via the continued friendship. Peer use of adolescent tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use at one time positively predicted the rate of change in later adolescent substance use (Wills & Cleary, 1999). Wills and Cleary concluded that socialization, and not selection, was the primary mechanism to explain adolescent and peer substance use. Socialization effects consistently appear in college settings. First-year undergraduate fraternity and sorority members were more likely than non-members to increase alcohol use over time (Lo & Globetti, 1995). Similar findings appeared among fraternity and sor- ority members for heavy episodic drinking and marijuana use over time (McCabe et al., 2005). Finally, young college adults’ ‘‘drinking buddies’’ (i.e., the peer network) pre- dicted individuals’ later alcohol use (Reifman et al. 2006). In conclusion, selection proposes that drinkers select partners similar to themselves in environments where alcohol use is accepted, prevalent, and normative. Once in this

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environment, continued or escalated heavy drinking is encouraged via socialization. Therefore, both the individual’s and their partner’s drinking habits may determine the degree to which selection and socialization produce increases in alcohol use (Capone, Wood, & Borsari, 2007). In the present study, selection processes suggest that a person will choose a partner similar to the self, such that adolescent drinking should predict a romantic partner’s drinking level in young adulthood. In later development, one young adult partner’s drinking predicts the other young adult partner’s drinking via mutual selection/socialization. Socialization processes imply that a person changes their beha- vior to become (or remain) similar to the partner. This can be seen when romantic partner drinking predicts a change in drinking from adolescence to young adulthood.

Moderators: Relationship length, type, and gender

In addition to selection and socialization effects, it is also important to identify mod- erator variables, such as romantic relationship length, relationship type, and gender. Social learning theory and socialization both suggest that couples’ drinking should become more similar as their relationship grows in length. Thus, partners in longer relationships should exhibit more similar drinking levels when compared with couples who have been together less. Although married relationships are thought to be longer and thus more committed than dating and cohabiting relationships, this is not always the case. Relationship type and length are distinct variables and will be examined separately. Imitation and reinforcement may encourage longer-term couples to exhibit similar drinking behaviors (e.g., Bussey & Perry, 1976). Therefore, similarity between partners should increase as a romantic relationship increases in duration. From a large community Norwegian sample, Tambs and Moum (1992) reported modest convergence on alcohol consumption, but no convergence on physical, lifestyle, personality, or demographic variables. Price and Vandenberg (1980), upon reporting convergence on couples’ alco- hol consumption, concluded that variables with high plasticity could demonstrate convergence. Recent longitudinal studies, however, report that couples do not converge in pro- blematic behavior, such as alcohol consumption, over time (Caspi & Herbener, 1990; Luo & Klohnen, 2005; Yamaguchi & Kandel, 1997) and little evidence exists that behavioral similarity increases as a function of relationship duration (Buss, 1984; Eaves, Eysenck, & Martin, 1989). Selection effects may actually be more important than socialization effects for couple concordance on alcohol and drug dependence (see McLeod, 1995). For example, Yamaguchi and Kandel (1993) concluded that there was no effect of one spouse’s drug use on the other. They proposed that couple similarity reflected initial selection, rather than socialization effects over time. An important limitation concerning the conclusion that drinking follows selection rather than socialization, however, is that most studies only examined married couples. Little research compared socialization effects among non-married (e.g., dating and cohabitating) and married couples. If longer relationships allow greater opportunities for socialization, then longer marriages should demonstrate greater behaviors change than shorter (marital and non-marital) relationships. Married and non-married relationships

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also differ in commitment and shared goals (Givertz & Segrin, 2005; Huston, Surra, Fitzgerald, & Cate, 1981), which may affect drinking. Examining change in drinking in one relationship type may not generalize to other relationship types. In addition to characteristics such as length, commitment, and shared goals, hetero- sexual relationships also reflect gender dynamics (Wood, 2000). Within such marriages, husbands and wives differentially influence each other. In some cases, influences on drinking habits appear to work mostly from husband to wife (Jacob & Selhamer, 1982; Leonard & Eiden, 1999; Leonard & Mudar, 2003). For example, husbands influence wives’ alcoholism more so than wives influence husbands (Gomberg, 1976). Moreover, wives’ drinking is strongly associated with their perceptions of their husbands’ drinking (Hammer & Vaglum, 1989; Wilsnack, Wilsnack, & Klassen, 1984). Gender dynamics, however, may depend on relationship duration. For example, husbands’ premarital alcohol use influenced wives’ alcohol use after one year of mar- riage, but wives’ drinking was not related to their husbands’ drinking at that point (Leonard & Eiden, 1999; Leonard & Mudar, 2003). After the second year, however, the pattern is reversed: wives’ first-year drinking predicted husbands’ drinking in the second year of marriage, but the reverse was not the case (Leonard & Mudar, 2004). Therefore, relationship duration may be an important moderator of gender differences in drinking partnerships. Young adult women and men romantic partners’ drinking may follow their rela- tionship roles and needs. Women’s alcohol use may reflect motivations to maintain the relationship (Covington & Surrey, 1997; Leonard & Mudar, 2003), leading women to adapt their drinking to match their male partner to enhance the relationship (i.e., social contagion, or one partner producing similar behavior in the other partner; Holmila, 1994). Social contagion would occur if one person copies the lifestyle of higher status individuals (in Western cultures, typically the wife following the husband; Holmila & Raitasalo, 2005). Social contagion may be significant in understanding relational drinking influence. Women are typically described as having stronger relational orien- tations (Gilligan, 1982) and center time and energy into romantic endeavors. Status differentials and women’s relationships orientation suggests that women are likely more influenced by romantic partners, particularly in committed relationships. Gender roles and relationship type should be important moderators in understanding how drinking among young adult women and men are affected by their romantic dating, cohabiting, and married partners.

Hypotheses

This study addresses how young adult drinking is associated with selection and socia- lization effects for men and women in romantic relationships. We pose six hypotheses. (1) A selection effect will appear as participants’ adolescent drinking will be positively related to romantic partners’ young adulthood drinking. (2) A selection/socialization effect will appear as participants’ young adult drinking would be positively related to romantic partners’ young adult drinking. (3) A socialization effect will occur where partners’ drinking would be associated with change from participants’ adolescent drinking to young adult drinking. Relationship type (dating, cohabiting, married) and

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gender will moderate these effects. (4) Relationship type will interact with partner drinking to predict participant change in drinking. (5) Gender will interact with partner drinking to predict participant change in drinking. (6) Socialization effects, where partner drinking predicts change in participant drinking, will vary by relationship type and gender. Other recognized predictors of young adult drinking, sensation seeking (Magid et al., 2007), peer and parental alcohol use (Fromme & Ruela, 1994; Poelen et al., 2007), and college enrollment (Arnett, 2005), were included as control variables. Length of relationship was controlled in testing socialization hypotheses.

Method

Data were drawn from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a school-based, longitudinal study of adolescents’ health-related behaviors and their effects in young adulthood (see Udry, 2003). Wave 1 (N ¼ 20,745) was collected between April and December of 1995. Approximately one year later, Wave II data col- lection occurred (N ¼ 14,738). Wave III data (N ¼ 15,197) were collected approximately six years later, when participants were young adults (18–26 years old). Wave III data included measures of attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes in late adolescence and young adulthood, particularly focusing on romantic relationships. A random selection of parti- cipants’ romantic partners participated in Wave III, yielding 1507 romantic couples. We used data from Wave I, Wave II, and the couple subsample from Wave III. After deleting participants and partners with missing drinking data, 1132 participants remained, and after deletions due to missing control variables data, the final sample size was n ¼ 852. The core sample (n ¼ 1132), the socialization hypotheses sample (n ¼ 852), and the entire romantic partner subsample (n ¼ 1507) did not differ on study variables. Nearly half (47%) of participants were males and ages ranged from 18 to 28. For the core sample (n ¼ 1132), the ethnic makeup was White/Caucasian (60%), African American (15%), Hispanic (12%), Native American (5%), and Asian/Pacific Islander (8%). Primary respondents’ age was approximately 15 years old at Wave I (ranging from 12 to 18), 16 at Wave II (13–19), and 22 at Wave III (18–27; ¼21.73, SD ¼ 1.61). Partner age ranged from 18 to 30 (M ¼ 22.45, SD ¼ 2.82). Both partners reported the month and year that the relationship began to determine relationship duration. Averaged relationship length (r ¼ .55, p < .001) was 24.01 months (SD ¼ 19.80, range 1–92) for dating couples, 28.02 months (SD ¼ 22.60, range 1–144) for cohabitating couples, and 45.03 months (SD ¼ 25.52, range 1–131) for married couples. At Wave III, 366 couples were dating (32%), 404 were cohabitating (36%), and 362 were married (32%).

Measures: Control variables

Demographic controls. Control variables included age, race, and education, biological sex, and length of the relationship. Additional control variables included sensation seeking, both adolescent and young adult peer drinking, parental drinking, and university enrollment.

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Sensation seeking was assessed only at Wave III. For each of seven paired-choice items, participants chose the sentence that best described them (e.g., ‘‘I like wild, unin- hibited parties’’ or ‘‘I like quiet parties with good conversation’’. High scores reflected greater sensation seeking. Scores were averaged (M ¼ .38, SD ¼ .28, a ¼ .67). Parental alcohol use was assessed by two items focusing on participants’ primary

parent during adolescence (e.g., ‘‘How often in the last month have you [the parent] had

  • 5 or more drinks on one occasion?’’) with responses ranging from 1 ¼ never, to 6 ¼ five

or more times. Items were averaged and only assessed at Wave I (M ¼ 1.61, SD ¼ .86).

Peer alcohol use was assessed across all three waves by a single item (i.e., ‘‘Of your

  • 3 best friends, how many drink alcohol at least once a month’’. Waves I and II report on adolescent peer drinking (M ¼ 1.16, SD ¼ 1.01), indicated that 26% of participants had

non-drinking peers, 31% had one drinking peer, 21% had two drinking peers, and for 20%, all three peers were drinkers. At Wave III, with the same measure, 27% of parti- cipants had non-drinking peers, 20% had one, 16% had two, and 37% had three drinking peers (M ¼ 1.62, SD ¼ 1.23). The romantic partner may have been a friend.

Measures: Predictors and outcomes

Alcohol consumption. Participants’ drinking was assessed at three waves. Wave I and II data (i.e., adolescence) were averaged (a ¼ .89). Partner drinking was assessed only at Wave III (young adulthood). Frequency, quantity of alcohol consumption, binge drinking, and getting drunk were assessed. Frequency of alcohol consumption was assessed with: ‘‘During the past 12 months, on how many days did you drink alcohol?’’ (Adolescence: M ¼ 1.20, SD ¼ 1.35, range 0–6; Young Adulthood: M ¼ 1.97, SD ¼ 1.68, range 0–6; Partner: M ¼ 1.97, SD ¼ 1.73, range 0–6). Binge drinking was assessed with:

‘‘During the past 12 months, on how many days did you drink five or more drinks in a row?’’ (Adolescence: M ¼ .75, SD ¼ 1.19, range 0–6; Young Adulthood: M ¼ 1.05, SD ¼ 1.48, range 0–6; Partner: M ¼ 1.05, SD ¼ 1.50, range 0–6) and getting drunk was assessed similarly: ‘‘During the past 12 months, on how many days have you been drunk or very high on alcohol?’’ (Adolescence: M ¼ .75, SD ¼ 1.16, range 0 –6; Young Adulthood: M ¼ .96, SD ¼ 1.29, range 0–6; Partner: M ¼ .60, SD ¼ 1.20, range 0–6). Response scales ranged from 1 ¼ never to 6 ¼ every day or almost every day. Quantity of alcohol consumption was assessed with: ‘‘Think of all the times you have had a drink during the past 12 months. How many drinks did you usually have each time?’’ (Adolescence: M ¼ .24, SD ¼ .43, range 0–5.6; Young Adulthood: M ¼ 1.22, SD ¼ 1.37, range 0–7.02; Partner: M ¼ 1.21, SD ¼ 1.41, range 0–7.02). A ‘‘drink’’ was defined as a glass of wine, a can of beer, a wine cooler, a shot glass of hard liquor, or a mixed drink. These measures of drinking (frequency, quantity, binging, drunkenness) offer dif- ferent information and provide more information than any item alone. Frequency and quantity assess different elements, but are often used together to assess quantity fre- quency (Rehm, 1998; Sobell & Sobell, 1995). We included both binging and getting drunk in the past 12 months to assess excessive drinking. These four measures accurately reflect participants’ drinking levels. The Wave I and Wave II four drinking measures were standardized and averaged to assess adolescent drinking, where higher scores indicate more drinking. Young adult

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(i.e., Wave III) drinking (a ¼ .88) and partner drinking (a ¼ .85) were similarly constructed. Participant drinking change between adolescence and young adulthood was assessed by entering adolescent drinking as a predictor and young adult drinking as an outcome. Although change scores and repeated measures were possible, given our regression analyses, this approach was warranted. No outliers or excessive skew were found. Demographic variables were centered and all other variables standardized to avoid multicollinearity in interaction terms. Table 1 presents intercorrelations, means, and standard deviations for all variables.

Results

Preliminary analyses

Couples’ similarity in sociodemographic characteristics was assessed through absolute difference scores between partners (Luo et al., 2008). Difference scores on race indicated whether couples were the same race (e.g., scored as 0) or interracial (1). Participants and partners were generally similar in race, education, and drinking behavior. Age differ- ences were significant across all three relationship types. One partner was older by two to three years.

Hypothesis tests

Hierarchical regression tested hypotheses, including demographic and other control variables as appropriate.

Young adult drinking. Hypothesis 1 predicted that participants’ adolescent drinking will positively predict romantic partners’ young adulthood drinking. Difference scores on demographic variables were entered in step 1 and participant adolescent drinking and participant young adult drinking were added in step 2. Demographic differences explained little variance (<1%). In step 2 participants’ adolescent drinking predicted partner young adult drinking (b ¼ .13, t ¼ 4.54, p < .001, DR 2 ¼ .018,), explaining significant variation (2%). Adolescent drinking six years earlier significantly predicted the young adult partner’s drinking, consistent with selection effects. Hypothesis 2 predicted that participants’ young adult drinking would be positively related to romantic partners’ young adult drinking and was tested with step 3 of the previous regression. Participants’ young adult drinking (b ¼ .29, t ¼ 9.80, p < .001, DR 2 ¼ .081) significantly predicted partner drinking and explained an additional 8% of the variance. This result is consistent with the mutual selection/socialization hypothesis, because both participant and partner young adulthood drinking were measured during the same wave.

Change in drinking. For all remaining socialization models, step 1 included demographic variables (biological sex; length of relationship; age, race, and education difference scores; and other control variables of sensation seeking, peer and parent drinking, college enrollment). Hypothesis 3 predicted that partners’ drinking would be associated with change in participants adolescent drinking to young adult drinking. Hierarchical

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12. Adol 13. YA 14. Partner

YA drink

  • 1.27 (1.26)

.30*

.11*

.15*

.12*

–.16*

.24*

.23*

.07*

.18*

.001

.02

–.03

.01

  • 1.33 (1.25)

.29*

.16*

–.16*

–.24*

.53*

.47*

–.06*

.24*

drink

.02

.05

–.01

.01

drink

–.13*

.10*

–.14*

.21*

.26*

.66*

.07*

.12*

.07*

(.94)

.04

.02

.73

peer drink peer drink 10. College alcohol use

11. Parent

–.003

–.09*

.11*

.14*

.12*

(.88)

1.62

.02

–.03

.03

–.01

–.01

Table 1. Correlations, means, and standard deviations of demographic, independent, and dependent variables.

Note: n ¼ 1132; Diff ¼ Difference, Rel ¼ Relationship Type, Sex ¼ Biological sex, Adol ¼ Adolescence, YA ¼ Young Adult.

.31 (.46)

.002

–.15*

–.32*

.06*

–.12*

–.12*

.08*

.04

.01

9. YA

  • 1.63 (1.23)

.004

–.002

–.15*

–.17*

.37*

.23*

–.12*

.04

8. Adol

  • 1.16 (1.01)

–.08*

.16*

.09*

.06*

.16*

.02

.03

7. Sensation

seeking

–.21*

–.22*

–.06*

–.09*

(.28)

.02

.39

–.01

5. Rel 4. Length type 6. Sex

  • 1.55 (.50)

.05*

.27* .06*

.10* .23*

.04

–.004 .02

(.80)

.99

–.05

  • 48.59 (26.40)

–.004

–.06

.05

1. Diff 2. Diff in 3. Diff in

  • 1.28 (1.35)

educ

.08*

.03

(1.01)

race

.02

.45

in age

  • 2.45 (SD) (2.78)

*p < .05.

  • 13
    14

  • 9
    10

    • 11
      12

M

  • 6
    7

  • 3
    4

8

  • 1
    2

5

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191

regression with the dependent variable of participants’ young adult drinking indicated that demographic and control variables included in step 1 significantly predicted young adult drinking. In step 2, participants’ adolescent drinking was added as an additional control variable. Partners’ young adult drinking (b ¼ .14, p < .001), added in step 3 (see Table 2), consistent with hypothesis 3, positively predicted change in drinking. (The dependent variable is change in drinking from adolescence to young adulthood because adolescent drinking was entered in step 2.)

Relationship type as moderator. Hypothesis 4 predicted an interaction between relationship type and partners’ drinking on change between adolescence and young adulthood drinking. In step 3 of the regression reported above, with regard to interaction terms between the interaction of relationship type and participants’ adolescent drinking and between relationship type and partners’ young adult drinking, only the latter interaction was significant. Follow-up analyses examined the relationship type by partner drinking interaction. The association between partners’ and participants’ drinking were somewhat stronger for dating partners (b ¼ .16, p < .001) and cohabiting partners (b ¼ .15, p < .01) than for married partners’ (b ¼ .09, ns). This is consistent with hypothesis 4, which pre- dicted differences in participant–partner association of drinking by relationship type.

Gender as moderator. Hypothesis 5 predicted that that an interaction between gender and partners’ drinking would predict change in participants’ drinking. To test this prediction, we added to the interaction terms between participants’ gender and participants’ ado- lescent drinking (b ¼ –.09, ns) and between participants’ gender and partners’ young adult drinking (b ¼ –.12, p < .05). Follow-up regression analyses indicated that the part- ner drinking effect was stronger on males (b ¼ .23, p < .001) than for females (b ¼ .15, p < .001). In short, women more strongly predicted men’s change in drinking more than men’s drinking influenced women.

Both relationship type and gender as moderators. Hypothesis 6 predicted that changes in participants’ drinking would be moderated by both relationship type and gender (i.e., a relationship type, gender, and partners’ drinking interaction). Analysis included all control variables, predictor variables, and both two-way and three-way interaction terms. Neither three-way interactions were significant (relationship type by participants’ gender by participants’ adolescent drinking, b ¼ –.05, ns; relationship type by participants’ gen- der by partners’ young adult drinking, b ¼ .01, ns). These results provide no support for the final hypothesis.

Discussion

Drawing upon a social learning framework, this longitudinal study examined the asso- ciations among adolescent drinking, romantic partner drinking, and young adulthood drinking and found evidence of both selection and socialization effects. Consistent with selection effects, adolescent drinking significantly predicted romantic partners’ young adult drinking. Given the six years between adolescent and young adult measures, this suggests that drinking behaviors may be important when choosing a potential romantic

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.010

.010

.422

.422

.016

(continued)

DR 2

DR 2

.021

62.59***

6.96***

62.59***

6.00***

4.54***

1.41*

DF

DF

–4.03***

13.17***

9.98***

3.50***

4.90***

4.88***

3.26***

2.98**

–2.61**

–2.78**

2.07*

1.78

0.62

–0.89

1.05

0.65

T

T

0.01

–.02 to .15 –.02 to .02 –.04 to .07 –.06 to .02 –.01 to – .001

–.05 to .09 –.16 to –.03

–.33 to –.11 .23 to .35 .05 to .16 .32 to .44 .01 to .11 –.01 to .10 .05 to .20 .08 to .19

.04 to .19

.08 to .19

CI

CI

.04

.04

.04

.04

.02

.02

.06

.03

.03

.03

.03

.03

.03

.03

.03

.03

SE

SE

.01

.0001

–.003

.04

.14

.10

.38

–.22

–.02

.02

.02

.12

–.09

.29

.05

.05

.13

b

b

.11

Table 2. Hierarchical regression models of socialization hypotheses.

Relationship type participant adolescent drinking Relationship type partner young adult drinking R 2 ¼ .450 F(14, 837) ¼ 49.68, p < .001

Hypothesis 4. Relationship type interactions

Hypothesis 3. Socialization Step 1: Intercept Difference in age Difference in race Difference in education Length of relationship Sex Sensation seeking Adolescent peer drinking Young adult peer drinking Parental drinking College enrollment Step 2: Participant adolescent drinking Step 3: Partner young adult drinking R 2 ¼ .443 F(12, 839) ¼ 56.64, p < .001

Participant adolescent drinking Partner young adult drinking Step 3:

Step 1: control variables

Step 2:

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.010

.000

.422

.422

.013

DR 2

.021

.021

62.59***

14.69***

62.59***

7.18***

6.00***

6.00***

DF

4.48

4.90***

4.90***

2.78**

2.78**

–2.44**

–2.43*

–2.11*

–1.85

0.13

–0.63

T

0.21

–1.31

–1.61

–.13 to .004 –.19 to .04 –.25 to –.03 –.19 to .10 –.13 to .15

–.31 to –.03 –.05 to .08

–.21 to .02 –.23 to –.01

.04 to .19 .08 to .19

.04 to .19 .08 to .19

CI

Note: n ¼ 852; SE ¼ standard error; CI ¼ confidence interval; DV ¼ participants’ young adult drinking. *p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001.

.07

.07

.04

.04

.06

.06

.06

.06

.05

.03

.03

.03

.03

SE

–.17

.10

.10

–.14

–.08

–.12

–.06

–.09

–.05

.13

.13

b

.01

.01

Relationship type sex Relationship type participant adolescent drinking Relationship type partner young adult drinking Sex participant adolescent drinking Sex partner young adult drinking Step 4: Relationship type sex participant adol. drinking Relationship type sex partner YA drinking R 2 ¼ .456 F(19, 832) ¼ 37.47, p < .001

Hypothesis 6. Relationship type & gender interactions Step 1: control variables Step 2: Participant adolescent drinking Partner young adult drinking Step 3:

R 2 ¼ .448 F(14, 837) ¼ 49.46, p < .001

Hypothesis 5. Gender Interactions Step 1: control variables Step 2: Participant adolescent drinking Partner young adult drinking Step 3:

Sex participant adolescent drinking Sex partner young adult drinking

Table 2 (continued)

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partner, even beyond demographic similarities. This is consistent with data on delinquency and romantic relationships (using the same dataset, Haynie, Giordano, Manning, & Longmore, 2005). In addition, a mutual selection/socialization effect appeared where young adults’ drinking was associated with their romantic partners’ young adulthood drinking. Selection suggests that individuals and partners made choices based, in part, on drinking behaviors. A socialization explanation suggests that participants were influenced by the partner. Dyadic longitudinal research examining drinking over time could distinguish selection from socialization. Selection effects may influence drinking behaviors because young adults choose romantic partners as a means of self-validation. Perceiving a partner as similar to oneself increases feelings of being understood and relational satisfaction (Acitelli, Kenny, & Weiner, 2001; Gattis, Berns, & Simpson, 2004; Murray, Holmes, Bellavia, Griffin, & Dolderman, 2002). Similarity is validating to both partners because each sees his or her own alcohol attitudes or behaviors in the other (Gonzaga, Campos, & Bradbury, 2007). Validation may socially reinforce the notion that they are normal and just like others. In addition, couple similarity may predict initial romantic attraction (Klohnen & Luo, 2003). These validations and rewards may lead individuals to form romantic bonds. Partner drinking predicted changes in participants’ adolescent to young adult drink- ing, demonstrating socialization after ruling out several alternative variables. It was evident that romantic relationship type may help increase understanding of young adults’ alcohol use. Dating partners’ drinking was more strongly associated with participants’ change in drinking than among cohabiting couples, while there was no association for married couples. There may be more pressure to match a partner’s drinking among dating couples. Once a couple is in a committed marriage, pressure to match likely dissipates and similarity in drinking is no longer necessary. Other factors in marriage may counteract socialization drinking effects. For example, married young adults may be less likely than daters to drink together. Moreover, getting married lowered spouses’ alcohol consumption, compared to the non-married (Bachman, Johnston, & O’Malley, 1996; Miller-Tutzauer, Leonard, & Windle, 1991). Thus, spouses’ drinking may be unrelated because they differ in drinking rates. As Sampson and Laub (1993) found with criminal activity, Giordano et al. (2003) found that couples may move away from ‘‘bad companions’’, perhaps reducing social pressure to drink and choose to affiliate with prosocial friends instead. One concern is that mate selection is non-random and many factors influence mating patterns (Blau, 1977; Sampson, Laub, & Wimer, 2006). Similar to the Sampson et al. (2006) consideration of the marriage-crime effect, variables that exert opposing influ- ences on cohabitation versus marriage, and also predict drinking, are important to con- sider. In particular, religiosity and religious participation variables may differentiate who cohabits, who marries, and who uses/misuses alcohol (Brown, Parks, Zimmerman, & Phillips, 2001; Mason & Windle, 2002). It is evident that gender was important to drinking within romantic relationships. The positive association between self and partners’ drinking was stronger for males. That is, the more men’s female partner drank, the more he drank, more so than for women with their male partners. This finding contradicts the notion that men’s social status would

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reflect greater influence, but is consistent with longitudinal research on spousal drinking behaviors (Cronkite & Moos, 1984; Leonard & Mudar 2004; Wilsnack & Cheloha, 1987) and delinquency research (Giordano et al., 2003). Understanding gender differ- ences regarding partner drinking on individual change in drinking is important as for- mative dating relationships may lead to later problem drinking in more committed relationships (see Graham & Braun, 1999). In the transition from adolescence to young adulthood drinking, married women showed the smallest increase, while married men’s drinking increase was similar to dating and cohabitating men. This is consistent with research reporting no decline in drinking for married men (Leonard & Mudar, 2003); however, studies with older samples or longer marriages indicate that married men tend to decrease their drinking (e.g., Bachman, Wadsworth, O’Malley, Schulenberg, & Johnston, 1997; Miller-Tutzauer et al., 1991; Roberts & Leonard, 1998). Our sample of young adults was predominately Caucasian and, most important (like Leonard & Mudar, 2003), in their first few years of marriage. Married men’s lower increase in drinking may be related to fertility, social role norms, or other factors, such as having a steady job, maintaining a marriage, and having children (Miller- Tutzauer et al., 1991). Women may reduce their alcohol consumption because it facilitates fulfilling adult roles and obligations (Bachman et al., 1997; Miller-Tutzauer et al., 1991). Understanding the marriage effect for women should be investigated longitudinally.

Strengths and limitations

Strengths of this study included the longitudinal design and nationally representative sample, allowing generalization to the larger population with little reservation. The data followed individuals from adolescence (ages 11–18) into young adulthood (ages 18–26), which allowed the examination of selection and socialization processes on individuals’ drinking in romantic relationships. The data also came from both participants and their young adult romantic partners. The large sample size provided considerable power to detect associations that exist. The present study also has several limitations. Firstly, some effects are quite small and should be understood as such. Small effects from large-scale surveys are a starting point for more targeted investigation. A second limitation was that there was insufficient diversity to consider results across ethnic groups. Other studies (e.g., Giordano, Manning, & Longmore, 2005; Wallace et al., 2003) suggest that future research should explore drinking across both relationship type and ethnic group. For example, research might explore groups particularly vulnerable to the belief that heavy drinking may lead to romantic relationships. A third limitation was that partners’ reports were captured only in the third wave. Future research should contain multiple data collections for both couple members’ drinking and relationship reports. Research on change trajectories would be better tracked with many data points, as most participants were not paired with the same romantic partner in both adolescence and young adulthood. In addition, it would also be important to consider drinking pattern changes among dating, cohabiting, and married partners who stay together and those who do not. Fourthly, the peer drinking measure may have included the romantic partner, thus creating measurement overlap. In addition, the peer alcohol-use measure asked

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participants to indicate the number of close friends who were drinkers, but reports were not always reliable and did not successfully measure the amounts of peer drinking. Despite this ambiguity, significant effects of peer drinking replicated peer delinquency research (Simons, Stewart, Gordon, Conger, & Elder, 2002). Fifthly, sampling initially selected U.S. adolescents in school settings, such that results likely do not generalize to different cultural contexts with different educational systems and social challenges. Finally, the current study focuses only on heterosexual young adult relationships. Future research should investigate the selection and sociali- zation processes within same-sex couples and also within adolescent couples. In conclusion, this study adds to the growing literature on drinking in young adult relationships and provides important implications for women and men in a variety of relationships. Daters, particularly men, may be at risk of continued drinking following pairing with drinking partners. If individuals drink to gain acceptance, romantic partners are likely important to young adult alcohol use. Marriage, and the commitment that typically comes with it, may allow spouses to be themselves, where they have less to lose by drinking (or not) at comfortable levels. Romantic relationships are an important context for understanding a variety of behaviors and have broad implications for adolescent and young adult development. Research has only begun to examine adolescent and young adult romantic relationships with alcohol use, but could inform parents, educators, and clinicians about effective ways to monitor romantic experiences surrounding alcohol, and to guide adolescents and young adults safely through new territories.

Acknowledgements

Special thanks go to Ronald R Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (addhealth@unc.edu). An earlier version of the paper was presented to the Society for Research on Adolescence Confer- ence in March 2008. Ruth Sharabany served as Action Editor for this article.

Conflict of interest statement

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Funding

The research is based in part on the first author’s dissertation at Texas Tech University and was supported by Training Grant T32 DA017629-01A1 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This research uses data from Add Health designed by J Richard Udry, Peter S Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies.

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