Original Research

Behavior Genetics

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 286-296

First online:

Peer Deviance, Alcohol Expectancies, and Adolescent Alcohol Use: Explaining Shared and Nonshared Environmental Effects Using an Adoptive Sibling Pair Design

  • Diana R. SamekAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Minnesota Email author 
  • , Margaret A. KeyesAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • , William G. IaconoAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • , Matt McGueAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Minnesota

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Previous research suggests adolescent alcohol use is largely influenced by environmental factors, yet little is known about the specific nature of this influence. We hypothesized that peer deviance and alcohol expectancies would be sources of environmental influence because both have been consistently and strongly correlated with adolescent alcohol use. The sample included 206 genetically related and 407 genetically unrelated sibling pairs assessed in mid-to-late adolescence. The heritability of adolescent alcohol use (e.g., frequency, quantity last 12 months) was minimal and not significantly different from zero. The associations among peer deviance, alcohol expectancies, and alcohol use were primarily due to shared environmental factors. Of special note, alcohol expectancies also significantly explained nonshared environmental influence on alcohol use. This study is one of few that have identified specific environmental variants of adolescent alcohol use while controlling for genetic influence.


Adolescence Alcohol expectancies Alcohol use Nonshared environment Peer deviance Shared environment