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Journalof AbnormalPsychology

1988,Vol.97, No. 2,218-230

Copyright1988bythe AmericanPsychologicalAssociation,Inc.
0021-843X/88/$00.75

Coping, Expectancies, and Alcohol Abuse:


A Test of Social Learning Formulations
M. Lynne Cooper and Marcia Russell
Research Institute on Alcoholism, Buffalo, New York
William H. George
State University of New York at Buffalo
The social learning perspective on alcohol abuse has spawned theoretical analyses to explain etiology
as well as intervention methods to guide treatment. Despite scattered empirical support for constituent components of this approach, tests of a comprehensive social learning model of abuse have been

lacking. The model proposed here postulates that alcohol abuse can be predicted from a causal chain
that includes alcohol consumption and "drinking to cope" as proximal determinants and general
coping skills and positive alcohol expectancies as more distal determinants. To evaluate this model
in a way that permits simultaneous consideration of its multiple determinants and control for demographic influences, path analytic techniques were applied to data from problem and nonproblem
drinkers drawn from a general population sample. The hypothesized model accounted for significant
variance in abuse status. Drinking to cope emerged as the most powerful predictor, exerting influence
via direct and indirect pathways. Coping styles indicative of avoidance of emotion emerged as more
important predictors of abuse than problem-focused coping. The predictive value of coping was
moderated by alcohol expectancies such that avoidant styles of coping with emotion were predictive
of abuse status only among drinkers expressing greater beliefin alcohol's positive reinforcing properties. These findings both support and refine the social learning perspective on alcohol abuse. Theoretical and treatment implications are considered.

Social learning theory posits that people who exhibit abusive


patterns of drinking differ from "healthy" drinkers in their ability to cope with the demands of everyday life and in their beliefs
about alcohol (Abrams & Niaura, 1987).~ According to this perspective, deficiencies in more adaptive coping skills and positive
expectancies about alcohol's effects operate independently and
jointly to promote the use of drinking as a coping mechanism.
Reliance on alcohol to cope should lead to heavier drinking and,
over time, increase the risk of alcohol abuse. This perspective on
the development and maintenance of alcohol abuse has heavily
influenced the content, techniques, and goals of a range of alcohol treatment programs. In particular, the teaching of general
and alcohol-specific coping skills, and to a lesser extent the modification of beliefs about the effects of alcohol, are integral components of various treatment approaches (e.g., social skills
training). Despite its widespread influence in the treatment
field, no comprehensive test of the social learning perspective
has been conducted. The present study tests a causal model de-

rived from social learning theory that relates general coping


skills, alcohol expectancies, and drinking to cope to alcohol use
and abuse in a general population sample. Though not a comprehensive test of social learning formulations, confirmation of
the proposed model would constitute strong support for several
basic tenets of this perspective.
Background

Drinking to Cope
Fundamental to the social learning perspective are the dual
premises that alcohol may be used as a generalized coping
mechanism and that the use of alcohol to cope will promote
heavier drinking and alcohol abuse. Considerable empirical evidence exists to support both notions.
Drinking to cope is defined as the tendency to use alcohol to
escape, avoid, or otherwise regulate unpleasant emotions. Correlational research examining motives for drinking consistently
reveals that a substantial percentage of drinkers, typically ranging from 10% to 25%, report drinking to regulate negative emo-

This research was supported by the National Institute of Alcohol


Abuse and Alcoholism Grant AA05702 to Marcia Russell. The authors
wish to thank Jeremy Skinner, Brenda Major, Michael Frone, and John
Welte for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. We
also gratefully acknowledge data analytic guidance provided by David
Harrington, Michael Frone, and Michael Windle and analytic support
provided by Donna Coviello.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to M.
Lynne Cooper, Research Institute on Alcoholism, 1021 Main Street,
Buffalo, New York 14203.

t Although no cohesive, clearly defined, consensually validated body


of theoretical premises comprising the social learning perspective on
alcohol abuse exists, we use the terms social learning perspective/approach interchangably to refer to a set of loosely related theories and
theoretical perspectives first articulated by Bandura ( ! 969) and subsequently elaborated by Marlatt (1979) and Abrams and Niaura (1987).
We use this terminology for economy of expression; we do not intend
to imply that a cohesive theoretical framework exists.
218

COPING, EXPECTANCIES, AND ABUSE


tion (Cahalan, Cisin, & Crossley, 1969; Mulford & Miller, 1963;
Polich & Orvis, 1979). Several experimental studies provide additional evidence suggesting that individuals may, consciously
or unconsciously, drink to cope with negative internal states.
For example, Marlatt, Kosturn, and Lang (1975) demonstrated
that male social drinkers who were provoked by a confederate
but given no opportunity to retaliate against the confederate
drank significantly more in a subsequent taste-rating task than
their angered counterparts who were given the opportunity to
retaliate. Marlatt and colleagues suggested that alcohol was
used in an attempt to cope with the negative emotions aroused
by the provocateur when no coping alternative was provided.
That subjects may drink in response to experimental manipulations designed to engender negative affect or emotion (e.g., anxiety or decreased self-esteem) has been replicated in other studies as well (cf. Higgins & Marlatt, 1975; Hull & Young, 1983).
Numerous studies have shown that reliance on alcohol as a
coping mechanism is associated with heavy or abusive drinking
(Farber, Khavari, & Douglass, 1980; Mulford, 1983; Parry,
Cisin, Baiter, Mellinger, & Manheimer, 1974). For example,
93% of a sample of diagnosed alcoholics were classified as escape drinkers, in contrast to the typically low rates of endorsement of drinking-to-cope items among nonproblem drinkers
(Farber et al., 1980). Moreover, drinking to cope has been
shown to predict abuse status after controlling for level of consumption (Polich & Orvis, 1979), thereby suggesting that the
adverse consequences of a reliance on alcohol to cope cannot
be accounted for solely by increased alcohol consumption.
The use of alcohol to cope with stressful situations has also
been implicated in posttreatment relapse. Marlatt and Gordon
(1979) found that over three-quarters of their sample of relapsed alcoholics reported taking their first drink in situations
where they were faced with either unpleasant emotional states
(e.g., anger and frustration stemming from an argument with
someone) or social pressure to resume drinking.
Collectively, these data provide clear support for the conceptualization of drinking as a coping response in stressful situations. Moreover, they suggest that individuals who rely on
drinking to cope are likely to drink more heavily and to develop
problems indicative of abuse syndromes.

Alcohol Expectancies
According to the social learning perspective, beliefs about the
effects of alcohol, referred to as alcohol expectancies, should
influence the likelihood that alcohol will be used to cope with
negative emotions. Presumably one must first believe that alcohol will in some way ameliorate unpleasant emotions before alcohol would be used instrumentally to regulate or reduce negative affect.
Expectancy research has focused on mapping the domain of
alcohol-related expectancies and their relation to alcohol use
and abuse. Early research identified six dimensions of positive
expectancies (Brown, Goldman, Inn, & Anderson, 1980). Two
of these dimensions were highly general, indicating the belief
that alcohol is capable of "magically" transforming or enhancing a broad range of physical and social experiences. The remaining four dimensions tapped expectancies for sexual enhancement, increased power and aggression, increased social

219

assertiveness, and tension reduction. Rohsenow (1983) subsequently elaborated this typology to include two additional dimensions reflecting expectancies for the negative effects of alcohol, in particular for performance impairment and irresponsibility.
Expectancy patterns have successfully predicted drinking behavior at all points along the continuum, from the onset of
drinking during adolescence to alcoholism. Expectancies assessed among 12- to 14-year-olds, prior to the onset of drinking,
have predicted subsequent patterns and levels of consumption
as well as the onset of problem drinking at 1- and 2-year followup intervals (Roehling, Smith, Goldman, & Christiansen, 1987;
Smith, Roehling, Christiansen, & Goldman, 1986). Among adolescent, college, and adult populations, the strength and pattern of alcohol expectancies have discriminated between light
and heavy drinkers, at-risk and control groups, and problem
and nonproblem drinkers (see Goldman, Brown, & Christiansen, 1987, for a review). Finally, expectancies have prospectively
predicted relapse among groups of treated alcoholics (Brown,
1985).
Experimental studies using the balanced placebo design provide further evidence that expectancies may significantly influence alcohol consumption (see Hull & Bond, 1986, for a recent
meta-analytic review of balanced placebo studies). Thus, experimental and correlational evidence provide convergent support
for the role of expectancies in determining actual levels of consumption as well as the behavioral consequences of consumption. The prospective studies recently reported by Smith et al.
(1986) and Roehling et al. (1987) provide compelling evidence
that expectancies precede the onset of drinking and drinking
problems. Collectively, these data strongly suggest that expectancies may play a causal role in the development of alcohol
abuse. It is not known, however, whether all or part of the relationship between expectancies and alcohol abuse is mediated
through reliance on alcohol as a coping mechanism.

General Coping Skills


Social learning theorists regard the domain of general coping
skills as critical to the decision to drink as well as whether drinking will be normal or maladaptive (Abrams & Niaura, 1987).
In this view, alcohol use is conceptualized as a general coping
mechanism invoked in situations where other more appropriate coping responses are unavailable or unused.
Perhaps the most convincing evidence regarding the relevance of general coping skills to patterns of abusive drinking
derives from research with alcoholic populations. Relapsed alcoholics were discriminated from recovered alcoholics and
matched community controls at 6-month and 2-year follow-ups
by their use of avoidance coping strategies in response to a recently experienced stressful event (Billings & Moos, 1983). The
balance of positive to negative coping strategies was also found
to be the strongest predictor of abstinence (accounting for approximately 30% of the explained variance) among a group of
treated alcoholics at 2-year follow-ups (Cronkite & Moos,
1984). Treatment outcome studies of various skill-oriented programs provide additional indirect evidence that acquisition of
appropriate coping responses may lead to a reduction in abusive
drinking (see Miller & Hester, 1986, for a review).

220

L. COOPER, M. RUSSELL, AND W. GEORGE

(f Positive"~
/~-IP" ~ ExpectanciesJ~_

Coping / -

"

"

Figure 1. Hypothesizedmodel relating drinking to cope, expectancies,

and general copingskillsto alcohol use and abuse.

More relevant to the question of the etiologic role of coping


in the development of alcohol abuse are studies using general
population samples. Only a handful of such studies have been
conducted, however, and they fail to provide strong support for
the importance of general coping skills. The use of prayer or
other religious means of coping has been related both to patterns of consumption and reliance on alcohol to cope (Stone,
Lennox, & Neale, 1985; Timmer, Veroff, & Colten, 1985). However, the relationship between prayer and alcohol use may reflect
the impact of normative proscriptions against drinking characteristic of most major religions, rather than the protective effects
of prayer per se as an adaptive coping mechanism. Seeking support and avoidance coping have also been related to drinking to
cope as negative and positive predictors respectively (Timmer et
al., 1985). However, these relationships were not robust across
multiple analyses and were qualified by sex of respondent. Finally, low self-esteem, which is suggestive of low levels of coping
resources, has also been related to drinking to cope (Pearlin &
Radabaugh, 1976).
The above research is largely consistent with the notion that
coping deficits may contribute to reliance on alcohol as a general coping response and to the development and maintenance
of alcohol abuse. However, current research is too sparse to permit confident conclusions regarding the etiologic significance
of specific coping styles or coping deficits, particularly in the
development of problem drinking among nonclinical samples.
Proposed Model
To summarize, although past research provides substantial
evidence supporting the importance of expectancies, general
coping skills, and the use of alcohol to cope as independent
predictors of alcohol use and abuse, no research has been
conducted to date that integrates these variables into a conceptual framework and tests simultaneously their contributions to alcohol abuse. Failure to simultaneously consider the
contribution of these factors potentially sacrifices parsimony

and runs the risk of generating spurious findings due to the


overlap among these constructs.
The present research tests a causal model relating these
variables in a general population sample. Figure 1 illustrates
this model, which derives directly from a social learning perspective on the development of alcohol abuse. As shown in
Figure 1, we hypothesize that expectancies and general coping skills will make significant independent contributions to
the prediction of drinking to cope and, further, that expectancies will moderate the relationship between general coping
skills and drinking to cope. Specifically, we hypothesize that
the relationship between general coping skills and drinking
to cope will be stronger among individuals high in positive
expectancies than among individuals low in expectancies. Alcohol consumption is hypothesized to be a direct positive
function of expectancies and of the reliance on alcohol to
cope. The entire effect of general coping skills on consumption is hypothesized to be indirectly mediated via drinking to
cope. Finally, abuse status is hypothesized to be a direct positive function of expectancies, drinking to cope, and alcohol
consumption. General coping deficits are hypothesized to
contribute only indirectly via drinking to cope.
The proposed model tests a number of premises fundamental
to a social learning perspective on alcohol abuse. Consistent
with Bandura's view of alcoholics as people who have acquired
alcohol consumption as a widely generalized dominant response to aversive stimulation (Bandura, 1969), the present
model posits a central role for the use of alcohol to cope. Moreover, cognitive expectancies for alcohol's effect (i.e., outcome
expectancies) and individual differences in coping skill figure
prominently in the present model. Finally, in accord with the
notion of multiple determinism, alcohol abuse is hypothesized
to result from multiple, interacting determinants. Thus confirmation of the proposed model will constitute strong support
for the fundamental logic of the social learning perspective on
alcohol abuse.

COPING, EXPECTANCIES, AND ABUSE

Method

Sample
Subjects in this study were 119 adults meeting DSM-III criteria for
current alcohol abuse or dependence and a comparison group of 948
drinkers, all of whom drank within the past year and have no history of
alcohol abuse or dependence. Subjects meeting these criteria were
drawn from a recently completed random sample survey of 1933 household residents in Erie County, New York. Designated respondents were
identified in a three-stage probability sample, stratified on race (Black
vs. non-Black) and education (less than high school, high school, some
college). The overall sample completion rate was 78.3%, and the majority (84.5%) of noncompletions were refusals.
Subjects in the present study ranged in age from 19 to 91 (M = 40
years, SD = 15.7), had completed on average one year of college (M =
13.0 years of schooling, SD = 2.4) and reported a median income of
$8,500 (M = $10,503, SD = $9,695). Fifty-seven percent were female
and 51% were Black. All subjects had consumed alcohol within the past
year, reporting an average of one drink per day, containing approximately .5 ounces absolute alcohol.

Procedures
Data were collected by a corp of 27 interviewers in the summer and
fall of 1986. Interviewers received five days of intensive training on general interviewing techniques, administration of the survey instrument
and study-specific procedures. Interviews were conducted in respondents' homes using a highly structured interview schedule that contained both interviewer- and self-administered portions. The complete
interview required approximately 90 minutes to administer. Respondents were compensated $25 for their time.
Routine steps were taken to ensure the standardization of interview
procedures (e.g., careful interviewer training, the development and use
of field manuals, etc.), which served to minimize the introduction of
both random and systematic error. In addition, standard procedures
were followed to assure respondents of the anonymity and confidentiality of the data, including conducting interviews in private whenever possible. Of the 1057 respondents included in the present study, however,
259 (24.5%) were interviewed in the presence of older children or adults.
Subsequent analyses of these data showed that the presence of an adult
or older child did not significantly influence the reporting of alcohol
consumption or alcohol problems. Thus it would appear that social desirability biases were not invoked by the presence of others with regard
to the reporting of these key and potentially sensitive data.

Measures
Measures were administered in a fixed order. Except for the expectancies and anger coping measures, which were self-administered, all measures included in the present study were interviewer-administered.
Problem drinking status. Subjects were administered questions from
the National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule
(DIS, Robins, Helzer, Croughan, Williams, & Spitzer, 1981) to approximate a psychiatric diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence according
to DSM-III criteria. Subjects were first asked if they had ever experienced any of 17 symptoms (e.g., needing a drink before breakfast, having trouble on the job or at school because of drinking, having the
"shakes" after stopping or cutting down drinking). Affirmative responses were followed by a question regarding the number of times that
particular symptom had been experienced within the past year. Following DSM.III criteria, symptoms were divided into three categories: (A)
a pattern of pathological alcohol use, (B) impairment in social or occupational functioning due to alcohol use, and (C) evidence of tolerance
or withdrawal. Subjects had to report the occurrence of at least one

221

symptom in Categories A and B to be classified as an abuser, and at least


one symptom in either Category A or B and one symptom in Category
C to be classified as alcohol dependent. In our study, subjects were considered current problem drinkers if they scored positively on either
abuse or dependence based on symptoms experienced within the past
12 months.
The DIS yields highly accurate diagnoses of alcohol abuse and dependence according to DSM-III criteria. Robins, Helzer, Croughan, & Ratcliff ( 1981) compared diagnoses derived from independent administrations of the DIS by psychiatrists and lay interviewers to 216 subjects. In
this study, psychiatrists were allowed to supplement data from the DIS
with additional diagnostic information when they deemed it necessary
to render an accurate diagnosis. Under these conditions, diagnoses by
lay interviewers proved to be both sensitive, yielding a 14% false negative
rate, and highly specific, yielding only a 2% false positive rate, as judged
against diagnoses by psychiatrists.
Alcoholconsumption. Subjects were asked to estimate usual quantity
and frequency of consumption across all beverage types over the past
12 months. From these estimates, a global measure of consumption was
computed that represents the average number of drinks per day, where
one drink was defined as 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce
of hard liquor (i.e., approximately 0.5 ounces absolute alcohol). Quantity-frequency questions were adapted from the National Health and
Leisure Time Survey (Wilsnack, Klassen, & Wilsnack, 1984).
Drinking to cope. Drinking to cope was assessed by a six-item scale
developed by Polich and Orvis (1979). Subjects were asked to report the
relative frequency on a 4-point scale (almost never, sometimes, often,
almost always)with which they drink for each of the following reasons:
to forget your worries, to relax, to cheer up when you're in a bad mood,
to help when you feel depressed and nervous, to feel more self-confident
and sure of yourself, and because there is nothing better to do (i.e., to
relieve boredom). Coefficient alpha for the six-item Drinking to Cope
subscale was .85.
Positive alcohol expectancies. Positive expectancies were assessed by
a composite of six subseales taken from the abbreviated version of the
Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire (Rohsenow, 1983). These subseales
assessed expectancies for global positive effects, social and physical pleasure, sexual enhancement, aggression and power, social expressiveness,
and relaxation and tension reduction. Although Rohsenow's item content was used, instructions for completing the items were taken from
Brown's Alcohol Expectancy Questionnaire (Brown et al., 1980). These
instructions emphasize responding in terms of personal beliefs about
alcohol as opposed to Rohsenow's instructions which ask respondents
to indicate their agreement with items based on the actual effects of a
few alcoholic drinks.
Rationale for using a composite measure derived primarily from a
higher-order factor analysis of the six subscales showing that all subscales loaded on a single factor with loadings >/.65. In addition, several
statistical considerations further support the utility of this approach. 2

Specifically, two additional considerations support this decision.


First, using subseales would introduce measurement error into the analyses. Four of the six subseales tapping positive expectancies have coefficient alphas lower than .75. Second, using individual subscales would
create data analytic problems to which no entirely adequate solution
exists. Specifically, if individual subseales were used, analyses of the hypothesized Coping Expectancies interaction would require the simultaneous estimation of up to 24 interaction terms. Such a procedure
would introduce substantial muiticollinearity leading to highly unstable
parameter estimates. The alternate analytic option would be to evaluate
each expectancy subscale in an independent regression analysis. However, this option inflates the Type I error rate to some unknown extent
owing to substantial intercorrelation among the subscales (rs range from
.35 to .64, ps < .001).

222

L. COOPER, M. RUSSELL, AND W. GEORGE

A summary score for positive expectancies was obtained by computing


the mean of the means for the six positive expectancy subseales. Coefficient alpha for the resulting composite was .86.
General coping skills. Three separate measures of coping were used
in this study, two trait-type measures (Anger coping styles and "John
Henryism" active coping style), and a process measure (Adult Health
and Daily Living Form B Coping Response Index). Each measure is
described below.
Anger coping styles assess how individuals characteristically react or
behave when they feel angry or upset. Three dimensions of anger coping
were assessed in the present study: anger-out, anger-in, and anger-reflect.
Respondents were asked to rate on a 4-point scale (almost never, sometimes, often, almost always) how often they react in each of 16 different
ways when they feel angry or furious.
Items developed by Spiclberger et al. (1985) were used to measure
anger-in and anger-out. Anger-in assesses the extent to which respondents typically suppress or avoid dealing with their angry feelings (e.g.,
"Boil inside, but don't show it"). Conversely, anger-out refers to the extent that individuals engage in aggressive behaviors when motivated by
angry feelings (e.g., "Say nasty things;' "Slam doors"). In the present
study, six of the eight original items were used to measure each construct. Selected items were identified on the basis of a published factor
analysis (Spielberger et al., 1985). Coefficient alphas were .73 and .76
for anger-in and anger-out, respectively.
Anger-reflect assesses the extent to which respondents typically control their anger in an effort to address the underlying problem or cause
of their anger. Four items developed by Harburg and Gleibermann
(1986) were used. Representative items include: "Keep your cool so that
you handle the problem that angered you" and "Calm down and think
about whatever angered you before you settle the problem?' Coefficient
alpha for the four-item scale was .80.
"John Henryism" (JH) active coping style is a stress-coping style characterized by the belief that one can control one's environment coupled
with direct and active efforts to do so. Assessed by the "John Henryism"
scale (James, Hartnett, & Kalsbeek, 1983), respondents indicated on a
4-point scale (completely false, somewhat false, somewhat true, completely true) the extent to which each item accurately characterizes
them. A representative item is, "Once I make up my mind to do something, I stay with it until the job is completely done?' Coefficient alpha
for the 12-item scale was .83.
Coping responses were assessed by using the 32-item Health and
Daily Living (HDL) Coping Response Index (Moos, Cronkite, Billings,
& Finney, 1986). Subjects were asked to recall and briefly describe a
recently experienced stressful event or situation. They were then asked
to rate on a 3-point scale (not at all, somewhat, a great deal) the extent
to which they used each of 32 potential coping responses to deal with
the event/situation.
Three method-of-coping indexes were derived. Active Behavioral Coping (13 items) assessesthe extent to which subjects engaged in direct action
and problem-solving (e.g., "Tried to find out more about the situation").
Active Cognitive Coping ( 11 items) taps the use of cognitive strategies such
as, "Tried to see the positive side of the situation?' Avoidance Coping (7
items) assessesreliance on avoidance, denial, or tension reduction as strategies for coping with the recently experienced stressful event. Representative
items include "Tried to reduce tension by eating more" or "by smoking
more" "Kept your feelings to yourself" and "Avoided being with people
in general" One additional item, "Tried to reduce tension by drinking
more," was deleted from the Avoidance Coping subscale to eliminate expilot confoundingof Avoidance Coping with Drinking to Cope.
Coefficient alphas for the coping response indexes were low to moderate:
.69, .66, and .48 for Active Behavioral, Active Cognitive, and Avoidance
Coping, respectively.These are nonetheless comparable with internal consistency estimates of reliability reported by Moos et al. (1986).3

Results

Comparison o f Problem a n d N o n p r o b l e m Drinkers


Groups did not significantly differ on race, education, income, marital status, or employment status (unemployed vs. all
others). However, problem drinkers were significantly younger
(35.1 vs. 40.7 years, t(1064) = 4.43, p < .001) and a greater
portion were male (72.3% vs. 38.9%, x 2 [1, N = 1067], = 50.7,
p < .001). Thus, all subsequent analyses were conducted controlling for sex and age.

Data Reduction a n d Correlational A n a l y s e s


Table 1 presents zero-order and partial correlations among
major study variables, along with means, standard deviations,
observed ranges, and valid ns for each variable. Because results
did not differ substantively across the two correlational procedures, results are discussed without specific reference to correlational procedure.
Conceptually variables may be grouped into one of two categories: alcohol-related variables (Variables 1-4, Table 1) and
coping variables (Variables 5-11). Examining the pattern of
correlations between and within these sets suggests several conclusions.
First, alcohol-related variables were significantly positively
intercorrelated, as would be expected. More important, however, their magnitude ranged from small to moderate (.20 ~ r ~<
.45), suggesting that these variables tap related b u t conceptually
distinct constructs, as hypothesized.
Second, the set of coping indexes used in this study appears
to represent at least two distinct domains of coping behaviors.
Anger-in, anger-out, and avoidance coping were significantly
and positively intercorrelated, as were JH active coping style,
active cognitive coping, active behavioral coping, and anger-reflect. In addition, variables within each subset were not, for the
most part, significantly positively correlated across sets. 4
In order to clarify further the interrelationships of the seven
coping indexes, they were submitted to a higher order factor
analysis. By using a principal components extraction and varimax rotation, two factors with eigenvalues greater than 1.0 were
extracted accounting for 30% and 28% of the variance, respectively. Anger-in, anger-out, and avoidance coping loaded positively on Factor 1 (loadings >I .55) and anger-reflect loaded nega-

3 It has been suggested that low internal reliability may reflect an inherent property of the construct rather than inadequate measurement.
Specifically, Lazarus and Folkman (1984) have argued that the successful use of one strategy within a particular domain of strategies may obviate the need to use other strategies within that domain. Thus, one would
not necessarily expect to obtain high estimates of internal consistency
reliability.
4 The only exceptions to this pattern are the significant, though modest (. 16 ~< r < .25), positive correlations between avoidance coping, in
the first subset, and the remaining subscales of the HDL Coping Response Index, Active Cognitive and Active Behavioral Coping, in the
second subset. Presumably at least some portion of the relationship between these subseales reflects shared method variance. In addition,
there may also be a spurious component due to perceived stressfulness
of the event or situation with which the individual was coping.

COPING, EXPECTANCIES, AND ABUSE

tively (-.59). Active cognitive coping, active behavioral coping,


and JH active coping style loaded positively on Factor 2 (loadings >i .60). These factors appear to reflect major domains of
coping behavior identified in the literature as emotion-focused
and problem-focused coping, respectively (Folkman & Lazarus,
1980).
Finally, these analyses suggest that emotion-focused and
problem-focused coping are differentially related to the set of
alcohol variables. Anger-in, anger-out, and avoidance coping
were significantly and positively correlated with all alcohol variables, although the magnitude of these correlations was modest
(.09 ~<r ~< .28). In contrast, anger-reflect (as a presumably adaptive method of coping with emotion) was consistently negatively
related to alcohol expectancies, use and abuse (-.05 ~< r ~<
-.13). Problem-focused coping indicators (JH active coping
style, active cognitive coping, and active behavioral coping) revealed no consistent pattern of relationships to the set of alcohol
variables. Correlations ranged from - . 10 to. 10, with approximately half of these correlations not differing significantly
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Estimating the Model


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Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to estimate the model depicted in Figure 1. The full model, consisting
of three equations, was estimated twice: once using the emotion-focused coping indexes and a second time using the problem-focused coping indexes. 5 In Equation 1, drinking to cope
was regressed on all hypothesized predictors (i.e., positive alcohol-related expectancies, the coping indexes and, in a subsequent step, the appropriate Expectancies Coping interaction
terms). In Equation 2, alcohol consumption (the average number of drinks consumed per day over the past year) was regressed
on all variables to its left in the model (drinking to cope, expectancies, and coping followed by Expectancies X Coping). Finally, in Equation 3, problem drinking status was regressed on
all variables to its left (consumption, drinking to cope, expectancies, and coping, again followed by Expectancies Coping).
This analytic strategy is highly similar to path analysis with
variables postulated as effects regressed simultaneously on all
variables postulated as causes. Thus, the contribution of each
term in the model is evaluated, controlling for all other terms
in the model. As such, the present analytic strategy is highly
conservative, attributing only nonoverlapping variance to each
factor. In addition, this strategy enables the estimation of direct
and indirect effects among variables.
Strictly speaking, however, the present analytic strategy
differs from traditional path analysis in two respects9 First, an

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5 Individual coping scales are used throughout these analyses. Although use of composite coping measures would simplify subsequent
analyses and potentially facilitate their interpretation, the composites
formed on the basis oftbe reported factor analysis were not highly reliable. For the anger-in, anger-out, anger-reflect (reverse scored), avoidance coping composite, coefficientalpha was 9 for the three problemfocused coping indexes, coefficient alpha was 9 These estimates are
not only lower than six oftbe seven reliability estimates obtained for the
individual subscales, but also suggest that unique information carried
by the individual scales might be lost by compositing.

224

L. COOPER, M. RUSSELL, AND W. GEORGE

Table 2

Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analyses PredictingDrinking to Cope From Positive


Expectancies and Two Sets of Coping Indexes
Emotion-focused coping
(N = 947)
Variables entered on
Step 2
Expectancies
Coping indexes
HDL Avoidance
Anger-In
Anger-Out
Anger-Reflect
Step 3
Expectancies X Coping
HDL Avoidance
Anger-In
Anger-Out
Anger-Reflect
Total R 2

R2
change

Standardized
beta weight

.245***
.389***
.170***
.123**
-.023
-.010
.015***
.073*
.084*
-.006
.033
.272***

Problem-focused coping
(N= 951)
Variables entered on

R2
change

Step 2
Expectancies
Coping indexes
JH Active
HDL Active Cognitive
HDL Active Behavioral

.207***

Step 3
Expectancies Coping
JH Active
HDL Active Cognitive
HDL Active Behavioral

.007*

Total R 2

Standardized
beta weight
.438***
-.053
.069
.018
-.088**
.049
-.012

.226***

Note. JH Active = "John Henryism" active coping style; HDL = Health and Daily Living Coping Response Index. Both analyses were conducted
forcing age and sex into the equation on Step 1. R 2 for Step 1 was .012 (p < .01) across both equations.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

interaction term has been incorporated in the model and, second, multiple indicators for one of the components in the model
(coping) are included, among which no causal relationships
have been hypothesized. However, both modifications to standard path analytic procedures have been explicitly discussed in
the literature and recommended procedures have been followed
here (see Cohen & Cohen, 1983). 6
Predicting drinking to cope. Table 2 presents the results of
the first pair of parallel multiple regression analyses in which
drinking to cope is regressed on positive expectancies and two
sets of coping indexes. Results are presented for emotionfocused coping and expectancies in Columns 1 and 2 and for
problem-focused coping and expectancies in Columns 3 and
4. Beta weights are reported throughout in order to facilitate
comparison of the relative importance of variables in the
model.
Summarizing across both equations, Table 2 shows that the
block of expectancy and coping variables was significant, accounting for more than 20% of the variance in drinking to cope
after controlling for sex and age. Examination of the beta
weights reveals that expectancies made a significant positive
contribution across both equations. Among the coping indexes,
only two of the emotion-focused coping variables, anger-in and
avoidance coping, made significant independent contributions.
The direction of their beta weights suggests that individuals who
suppress their anger and use avoidance coping are more likely
to drink to cope. Comparison of the magnitude of the betas for
coping and expectancies shows that expectancies contributed
relatively more to the prediction of drinking to cope.
Blocks of Coping Expectancy interaction terms were entered on Step 3. The interactions of both Avoidance Coping and
Anger-In Positive Expectancies were significant and together
accounted for 1.5% additional variance. The JH Active Coping

Style Positive Expectancies interaction was also significant,


accounting for an additional .7% of the variance. Subgroup
analyses revealed that all interactions were in the predicted direction. Using a median split on positive expectancies, the correlation between anger-in and drinking to cope was stronger for
individuals high in positive alcohol expectancies (r = .24, p <
.001) than it was for individuals low in expectancies (r = . 14, p <
.001). Similarly, the relationship between the use of avoidance
coping and subsequent drinking to cope was stronger among
individuals high in positive expectancies (r = .27, p < .001) than
among individuals low in expectancies (r = . 18, p < .001). Finally, the interaction of JH Active Coping Style Positive Expectancies was also in the predicted direction, with individuals
low in active coping more likely to use alcohol to cope only if
they also held strong positive expectancies. However, this effect
was not robust. Among individuals high in positive expectan6 Cohen and Cohen (1983) state that effects will be estimated correctly when interaction terms are included if both variables involved in
the interaction are coded as deviations from their means and main
effects are partialled from their product to create the interaction term.
In this study, therefore, deviated product terms are entered in a separate
step after their main effects. Regarding the use of multiple indicators,
Cohen and Cohen (1983) suggest that the causal interpretation of coefficients generated by using single variables within a path analytic
framework can be generalized to the analysis of variable sets. However,
because no causal relationships are hypothesized among the variables
within a set, common variance is treated as spurious. Consequently, this
procedure is highly conservative and may systematically underestimate
the true effect size for individual coping variables (see Pedhazur, 1982,
for a discussion of this issue). Supplementary analyses revealed, however, that this was not the case in the present data. That is,/~ coefficients
for significant coping indicators did not differ substantially when estimated singly or in conjunction with other significant coping indicators.

225

COPING, EXPECTANCIES, AND ABUSE


Table 3

Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analyses PredictingAlcohol Consumption From Drinking to Cope,


Positive Expectancies, and Two Sets of Coping Indexes
Emotion-focused coping
(N = 947)
R 2

Variables entered on

change

Step 2
Drinking to cope
Expectancies
Coping indexes
HDL Avoidance
Anger-In
Anger-Out
Anger-Reflect
Step 3
Expectancies Coping
HDL Avoidance
Anger-In
Anger-Out
Anger-Reflect
Total R E

.157**

Problem-focused coping
(/7=951)

Standardized
beta weight

Variables entered on
Step 2
Drinking to cope
Expectancies
Coping indexes
JH Active
HDL Active Cognitive
HDL Active Behavioral

.163"*

.365**
.070*
.015
-.053
.022
-.019

Step 3
Expectancies Coping
JH Active
HDL Active Cognitive
HDL Active Behavioral

.000

-.014
-.026
.041
.035

.002

.275**

TotalR 2

R2
change

Standardized
beta weight
.369**
.076*
.024
-.014
-.076"

-.017
.013
.008
.283**

Note. JH Active = "John Henryism" active coping style; HDL = Health and Daily Living Coping Response Index. Both analyses were conducted
forcing age and sex into the equation on Step 1. R2 for Step I ranged from. 115 to. 119 ( ps < .001) across both equations.
*p < .05. **p < .01.
cies, the correlation was only - . 0 7 (p < . 10) compared with a
correlation o f - . 0 1 (p > . 10) among individuals low in expectancies.
Results of these analyses provide clear support for the proposed model. Positive alcohol expectancies and an avoidant
style of coping with emotion accounted for nearly 25% of the
variance in the self-reported use of alcohol to cope. Conversely,
more active, problem-focused coping strategies did not predict
drinking to cope] In addition, expectancies and coping interacted, as hypothesized, to predict the use of alcohol to cope.
Examination of the form of the interaction showed that drinking to cope is most likely among individuals who rely on an
avoidant style of coping with emotion and hold strong positive
expectancies for the effects of alcohol.
Predicting alcohol consumption. Table 3 presents the results of the second pair of parallel regression analyses in which
alcohol consumption was regressed on drinking to cope, positive expectancies, and the two sets of coping indexes. Because
alcohol consumption was highly skewed (skewness = 5.5), these
analyses were conducted using a log-transformation of the
dependent variable. Skewness of the transformed variable
was -.023.
Analyses for emotion-focused and problem-focused coping
revealed few differences. Summarizing across both equations,
it can be seen that drinking to cope, positive expectancies, and
the general coping indexes accounted for approximately 16% of
the variance in alcohol consumption after controlling for sex
and age. As predicted, drinking to cope and positive expectancies made significant independent contributions. Active behavioral coping also made a significant, though unpredicted, contribution. Comparison of the relative magnitude of these effects
reveals, however, that drinking to cope is a substantially more
important determinant of alcohol consumption than either ac-

tive behavioral coping or positive expectancies. The results of


these analyses provide strong support for the proposed model,
suggesting that individuals who drink heavily are prone to use
alcohol to cope, have fewer active coping skills, and possess
stronger expectancies for the positive effects of alcohol. 8
Predicting problem-drinking status. Table 4 presents the
final pair of parallel multiple regression analyses in which problem drinking status is regressed on consumption, drinking to
cope, positive expectancies, and the two sets of coping indexes. 9

7 lazarus and Folkman (1984) have postulated that individuals may


use more emotion-focused or avoidant coping strategies when dealing
with highly stressful events or situations. Thus, perhaps these results
simply reflect the fact that individuals both use more emotion-focused
or avoidance coping and drink more when faced with highly stressful
situations. Consistent with this interpretation, problem drinkers had
significantly higher scores on a total stress index and they also rated the
event about which they completed the HDL Coping Response Index as
significantly more stressful. Accordingly, supplementary analyses were
conducted to evaluate the viability of this alternative explanation. Results showed that the relationships between anger-in, avoidance coping,
and drinking to cope cannot be accounted for by stress. The magnitude
of the coefficients for anger-in and avoidance coping were only slightly
reduced by controlling for two separate stress indexes, and their associated significance levels were unaffected.
8 Both regression equations were re-estimated by using the untransformed consumption variable. Results were replicated, with the exception that the small direct effect obtained for active behavioral coping was
not obtained. Instead a small direct effect was obtained for avoidance
coping.
9 Because the use of dichotomous dependent variables violates a
number of assumptions underlying Ordinary Least Squares Regression
(see Neter, Wasserman, & Kutner, 1985, for a thorough treatment of
these issues), both of these equations were reestimated by using logistic

226

L. COOPER, M. RUSSELL, AND W. GEORGE

Table 4

Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analyses Predicting Problem Drinking Status From Consumption,
Drinking to Cope, Positive Expectancies, and Two Sets of Coping Indexes
Emotion-focused coping
(N = 947)
Variables entered on
Step 2
Alcohol consumption
Drinking to cope
Expectancies
Coping indexes
HDL Avoidance
Anger-In
Anger-Out
Anger-Reflect
Step 3
Expectancies Coping
HDL Avoidance
Anger-In
Anger-Out
Anger-Reflect
Total R 2

R2
Change

Problem-focused coping
(N= 951)

Standardized
beta weight

.207***
.279***
.220***
.067*
.028
-.033
.104**
.015
.002
.018
.044
-.033
-.005
.271 ***

R2
change
Step 2
Alcohol consumption
Drinking to cope
Expectancies
Coping indexes
JH Active
HDL ActiveCognitive
HDL ActiveBehavioral

.204***

Step 3
Expectancies Coping
JH Active
HDL ActiveCognitive
HDL ActiveBehavioral

.002

Total R 2

Standardized
beta weight
.283***
.235***
.082*
.016
-.013
-.012

-.003
-.051
.045
.267***

Note. JH Active = "John Henryism" active coping style; HDL = Health and Daily Living Coping Response Index. Both analyses were conducted
forcing age and sex into the equation on Step 1. R 2 for Step 1 was .062 ( ps < .001) across both equations.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.

Summarizing across both equations, it can be seen that quantity of alcohol consumed, drinking to cope, and positive expectancies made significant independent contributions to the prediction of problem drinking status after controlling for age and
sex. Jointly these variables accounted for more than 20% of the
variance in abuse status. Calculation of a squared multiple correlation eliminating consumption from the equation showed
that drinking to cope and expectancies alone account for nearly
14% of the variance in abuse status.
Examination of the beta weights shows that all relationships
were positive and that drinking to cope and alcohol consumption contributed nearly equally to the prediction of abuse. In
contrast, the expectancy effect was substantially weaker. Interestingly, anger-out also significantly predicted problem drinking status, although the magnitude of the effect was quite small
(sr2 = .006). The direction of the beta weight suggests that individuals who express their anger outwardly are more likely to
abuse alcohol. Overall, these results are consistent with predictions. They suggest that, at every level of alcohol consumption,
individuals who report using alcohol to cope and who hold
strong positive expectancies for the effects of alcohol are more
likely to abuse alcohol.

Estimating Total Effects


Figure 2 summarizes the direct effects estimated in the foregoing series of multiple regression analyses. All path coefficients
regression. Results of the logistic regression analyses did not substantively differ from the results obtained via OLS regression techniques. In
order to maintain consistency across analyses, results obtained via OLS
estimation procedures are reported.

represented in Figure 2 were taken from analyses that included


the emotion-focused coping indexes. These coefficients were
consistently smaller in magnitude and therefore more conservative than those estimated in the series of analyses using
problem-focused coping indexes. In addition, coefficients obtained from equations that included the significant coping indicators provide a more unbiased estimate of the effects of the
remaining predictor variables because overlapping variance
among all significant predictors was controlled.
Table 5 summarizes the estimated direct, indirect, and total
effects of the predictor variables on abuse status, again using
only estimates derived from equations that included the emotion-focused coping indexes. Standard procedures, as described
in Kenny (1979), were used to derive these estimates. For example, the estimated indirect effect of drinking to cope on abuse
is obtained by multiplying the coefficient for the direct effect of
drinking to cope on consumption (.365) by the coefficient for
the direct effect of consumption on abuse (.279). This product
(. 102) yields an estimate of that portion of the bivariate correlation that can be attributed to the indirect effect (via consumption) of drinking to cope on abuse. The direct and indirect
effects may then be summed (.220 + .102 --- .322) to yield the
total effect, or effect coefficient, which provides an estimate of
that portion of the bivariate correlation between abuse and
drinking to cope that reflects a causal (as opposed to a spurious
or unanalyzed) relationship. Technically, an effect coefficient
may be interpreted as the standard deviation change expected
in the dependent variable for each standard deviation change in
the independent variable, holding constant all other variables
in the equation. Although no test for the significance of indirect
effects exists, an effect is considered significant whenever all the
B coefficients involved in its computation are significant (Co-

227

COPING, EXPECTANCIES, AND ABUSE

w,"I

Positive I-

9......

.17"**
Avoidance

"c:::.;c' ). ;

. , J

.32"**

\.,
'".

'"_

"~f

***

Alcohol

,-,

~ Dependence)

Drinking"~ ~

<su
Figure2. Estimated model relating drinking to cope, expectancies, and emotion-focused
coping to alcohol use and abuse. (* p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001 .)

hen & Cohen, 1983). Following this logic, indirect effects are
computed only if the Bs for all paths are significant atp < .05.
In order to estimate the indirect effects for anger-in and avoidance coping on abuse status, supplementary analyses were required. Because of the significant Coping X Expectancies interaction terms, two subgroup regressions were conducted in
which drinking to cope was regressed on avoidance coping and
anger-in simultaneously for individuals one standard deviation
above or below the mean on positive expectancies. Results of
these analyses showed that, for individuals holding strong positive expectancies (n = 174), both anger-in and avoidance coping
made significant independent contributions to the prediction of
drinking to cope (Bs = .231 and .284 for anger-in and avoidance

Table 5

Estimated Direct, Indirect, and Total Effects of Drinking to


Cope, Expectancies, and Coping on Problem Drinking Status
Estimated effect
Predictor variable

Direct

Indirect

Total

Alcohol consumption
Drinking to cope
Expectancies
Emotion-focused coping
(at + 1SD above mean)
Avoidance
Anger-in

.279**
.220**
.067*

-.102
.137

.279
.320
.204

.000
.000
.000

.166
.113
.053

.166
.113
.053

Note. All indirect effects are statistically significant (except for alcohol
consumption) according to the criterion suggestedby Cohen and Cohen
(1983).
*p < .05. **p < .001.

coping, respectively, ps < .001). For individuals low in positive


expectancies (n = 164), neither anger-in nor avoidance coping
was significant (Bs = . 116 and .086 for anger-in and avoidance
coping, respectively, ps > . 15). Using these beta weights to estimate the combined indirect contribution of avoidance coping
and anger-in, yields estimated indirect effects of.065 and. 166
for individuals holding weak and strong expectancies, respectively. Because neither anger-in nor avoidance coping directly
predicted problem drinking status, the total effect of these factors is equal to the indirect effect of. 166 for individuals high in
positive expectancies. For individuals low in positive expectancies, however, the .065 coefficient is not reliably different from
0 according to the criterion suggested by Cohen and Cohen
(1983).
To summarize data presented in Table 5, the estimated effect
coefficients for alcohol consumption, drinking to cope, and positive expectancies are approximately .28, .32, and .20, respectively; among individuals with strong positive expectancies, the
estimated effect coefficient for anger-in and avoidance coping
combined is. 17. Comparing the relative magnitude of these coefficients reveals that the total effect for drinking to cope is at
least as great as that for consumption per se and roughly 1.6 to
2.0 times greater than that for expectancies and emotion coping,
respectively. Comparison of the relative magnitude of the total
effects for coping and expectancies suggests that they contribute
almost equally to alcohol abuse, at least among individuals who
hold strong positive expectancies.
Discussion and Conclusions
Our research tested basic assumptions derived from social
learning theory regarding the etiology of alcohol abuse. Overall,

228

L. COOPER, M. RUSSELL, AND W. GEORGE

the results of this study provide strong support for the proposed
model, linking coping styles, alcohol expectancies, and drinking
to cope to alcohol use and abuse. However, these data suggest
that the relevant coping domain is restricted to avoidant styles
of coping with emotion. Expectancies were also shown to moderate the relationship between avoidant styles of emotion-focused coping and drinking to cope, such that individuals who
hold strong positive expectancies and also use avoidant styles of
coping with emotion were most likely to drink to cope. In turn,
individuals who hold strong positive expectancies and who
drink to cope not only drink more, but are also more likely to
experience problems as a result of their drinking. Collectively,
the direct effects of consumption, drinking to cope, and expectancies account for approximately 20% of the variance in alcohol abuse, with drinking to cope and expectancies alone accounting for almost 14% of that variance. Although magnitude
estimates for indirect effects cannot be directly converted into
percentage of variance estimates, comparison of the relative
magnitude of the combined indirect effects for drinking to cope,
expectancies and general coping styles (. 10 + . 14 + . 17 = .41)
with the combined direct effects of drinking to cope and expectancies (.23 + .07 -- .30) reveals that the total indirect effects
are approximately 1.4 times greater than the total direct effects.
Given that the direct effects alone account for 14% of the variance in abuse status, these data suggest that the total contribution of drinking to cope, expectancies, and emotion coping to
alcohol abuse are substantively important.
Reliance on drinking as a coping strategy emerges as the most
powerful explanatory variable in the model, contributing to alcohol abuse via direct and indirect pathways. Importantly, these
data reveal that individuals who drink to cope are more likely
to experience problems indicative of abuse syndromes regardless of their level of consumption. One implication of this finding is that reasons for drinking are important determinants of
the consequences of drinking and, in particular, that drinking
to cope may be intrinsically maladaptive. It seems reasonable
to speculate that individuals who rely on alcohol to cope with
dysphoric feelings may become more psychologically dependent on alcohol. Increased psychological dependence, in turn,
may promote continued drinking despite the experience of negative consequences indicative of abuse syndromes.
To the extent that this interpretation is valid, nonpathological
reasons for drinking (e.g., social reasons) should not directly
predict abuse after controlling for consumption. In fact, when
the model depicted in Figure 1 was reestimated by using a threeitem Drinking for Social Reasons scale (Polich & Orvis, 1979;
= .73) in lieu of drinking to cope, the Drinking for Social
Reasons scale did not predict problem drinking status directly,
although it made a small significant indirect contribution via
increased consumption. Additional evidence of discriminant
validity is provided by the set of regressions in which drinking
for social reasons served as dependent variable. These analyses
revealed that expectancies, but not coping, significantly predicted drinking for social reasons, thereby suggesting that
drinking for social reasons is unrelated to general levels of coping ability.
Collectively, these secondary analyses provide additional support for the notion that motivations for drinking differentially
influence the outcomes of alcohol use. Specifically, these analy-

ses support the hypotheses that alcohol may be used to cope


and, more important, that reliance on the use of alcohol as a
coping strategy may lead to the development of alcohol abuse.
Positive expectancies also emerge as an important explanatory variable, predicting abuse primarily via indirect pathways.
These data suggest, however, that expectancies arc relatively less
important than drinking to cope in accounting for abuse. In this
regard, it is worth noting that the bivariate correlations between
expectancies and alcohol use and abuse are somewhat less robust here than those typically reported in the literature, l~ Owing to the large and representative sample used in this study,
however, it seems likely that the magnitude estimates derived
from this sample are both more reliable and more representative than previously published estimates derived from less
broadly representative samples.
Among the general coping skills measured here, avoidance
coping and anger suppression also emerge as useful explanatory
variables, but only for people holding strong positive expectancies. Given that alcohol abusers generally hold positive alcohol
expectancies, these data suggest that reliance on avoidance coping and anger suppression may contribute to the etiology and
maintenance of abuse.
These data provide an important refinement of current social
learning formulations regarding the role of coping in alcohol
abuse. The prepotence of emotion-focused over problem-focused coping in our data may be related to alcohol's pharmacokinetic action. It is well documented that alcohol alters mood
and impairs behavior. Thus, for individuals with inadequate
emotion-focused coping, alcohol's mood-altering properties
may offer an attractive counterpunch for dysphoric feelings.
However, for individuals deficient in problem-focused coping,
alcohol's behavioral-impairment properties would only serve to
exacerbate any deficiency and thus alcohol consumption is not
likely to be viewed as a viable coping option. Whereas previous
theoretical treatments of coping have not distinguished among
10Several possible explanations were explored in the data to account
for the relatively small magnitude oftbe zero-order correlations involving the expectancy composite. The possibility that use of a composite
expectancies measure was masking more robust relationships between
individual expectancy subscales and the alcohol variables was evaluated
by examining the correlations of consumption and abuse to the subscales. However,the individual expectancy subscales exhibited, on average, weaker relationships to both consumption and abuse than does the
composite (average rs =. 16 and .20 for consumption and abuse, respectively). In light of the fact that many expectancy studies have used samples of beavier drinkers and that heavier drinkers may possess more refined expectancies, it is also possible that expectancies would be more
strongly related among the subset ofbeavier drinkers in the present sample. However, calculation of the correlation between expectancies and
consumption among the subset of drinkers who drink every day or almost every day (n = 105) revealed only a modest increment in the magnitude of the correlation (r = .23, p < .01), Thus, neither of these explanations would appear to account for the relatively small magnitude of
the expectancy-alcohol correlations. However, the divergent modes of
administration used for the expectancy and alcohol measures may partially account for the reduced magnitude of the correlations obtained
in the present data. Specifically, the expectancy measure was self-administered, whereas the remaining alcohol measures were intervieweradministered thereby reducing common method variance that may
have artifactually inflated previously reported magnitude estimates.

COPING, EXPECTANCIES, AND ABUSE


domains of coping behaviors, the present data suggest that inadequate emotion-focused coping, rather than inadequate coping
per se, contributes to the development of alcohol abuse.
The present findings lend indirect support to the general utility of treatment approaches based on social learning formulations. These data suggest that clinical interventions that focus
on the proximal determinants of alcohol abuse, such as relapse
prevention (Marlatt & George, 1984; Marlatt & Gordon, 1985),
may prove especially effective. Identifying high-risk situations
in which alcohol is likely to be used as a coping response and
providing specific alternatives to the drinking-to-cope response
are clearly indicated. With regard to the more distal determinants of our model, cognitive restructuring interventions that
address alcohol expectancies would seem appropriate. Overly
positive views about the benefits of alcohol in coping with dysphoric feeling need to be counterbalanced by a greater appreciation for its long-term negative consequences (e.g., Marlatt's decision matrix; Marlatt & Gordon, 1985). The potential value of
skills training approaches (e.g., anger management and assertion training) that stress acquisition of more adaptive ways of
coping with negative emotions is also supported. In contrast,
these data raise the possibility that approaches seeking to teach
problem-focused coping skills would be less efficacious.
Several directions for future research are indicated by our
findings. Incorporation of negative affect into an expanded
model would be a useful addition given the import of emotionfocused coping in the present data. Similarly, the linkages
among the determinants in this model could be further clarified
by examining the potential mediating role of efficacy expectation. An expanded model might also focus on the potential mediating role of biomedical mechanisms that have been implicated in alcohol abuse. The role of environmental stressors as
precipitants and potential moderating variables might also be
usefully explored. Ultimately, replication of this work in a prospective design is required in order to elucidate reciprocally determined aspects of the social learning model as well as to enable more confident inference about the hypothesized causal
relationships.
In sum, these data not only provide strong support for the
fundamental logic of a social learning perspective on alcohol
abuse, but they also underscore the importance of cognitive and
affective processes. By demonstrating a clear role for emotionfocused coping behavior in abusive drinking, our findings highlight the potential significance of emotion in the genesis of alcohol abuse. At the same time, these data illustrate the myriad
contributions of cognitive expectancies, including their importance as moderators of emotion-driven processes. The interplay
of emotion and cognition evident in the present data suggest
that dichotomous representations of these influences may be
misleading (Lazarus, 1984; Zajonc, 1984). Instead their integration proffers a more meaningful contribution for understanding human behavior from both theoretical and practical
perspectives.
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Received August 26, 1987
Revision received November 20, 1987
Accepted November 30, 1987 9

Call for Nominations for Behavioral Neuroscience


The Publications and Communications Board has opened nominations for the editorship of
Behavioral Neuroscience for the years 1990-1995. Richard E Thompson is the incumbent editor. Candidates must be members of APA and should be available to start receiving manuscripts
in early 1989 to prepare for issues published in 1990. Please note that the P&C Board encourages more participation by women and ethnic minority men and women in the publication
process, and would particularly welcome such nominees. Submit nominations no later than
August 1, 1988 to
Martha Storandt
Department of Psychology
Washington University
St. Louis, Missouri 63130
Other members oftbe search committee are Byron Campbell, Mortimer Mishkin, Mark Rosenzweig, and Shepard Siegel.