Prevention Science

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 140–149 | Cite as

Alcohol Expectancies and Risky Drinking Behaviors Among High School Athletes: “I’d Rather Keep My Head in the Game”

  • Byron L. ZamboangaEmail author
  • Lindsay S. Ham
  • Janine V. Olthuis
  • Matthew P. Martens
  • Joel R. Grossbard
  • Kathryne Van Tyne


Research suggests that high school students who participate in sports may be at elevated risk for alcohol use compared to their non-athlete peers; however, reasons for this association are unclear. Alcohol expectancy theory posits that individuals who expect favorable outcomes to occur because of alcohol use are more likely to drink than those who do not endorse such beliefs. As such, the present study was designed to examine the associations of alcohol expectancy outcomes and valuations (i.e., beliefs about whether an outcome is good or bad), as well as alcohol expectancies related to sports functioning (e.g., alcohol’s effects on one’s ability to learn new plays and recover physically from sporting activities), with risky drinking among high school athletes. Participants were 219 in-season high school athletes (mean age = 15.6, range = 13–18) who completed anonymous self-report surveys. A structural equation model indicated that endorsement of positive alcohol expectancy outcomes and favorable evaluations of negative expectancy outcomes were associated with higher levels of risky drinking. Conversely, greater endorsement of negative athletic-functioning drinking expectancies was associated with lower levels of risky drinking. Future research considerations and implications for intervention efforts targeting high school athletes are discussed.


Alcohol expectancies Hazardous alcohol use Drinking games Athletics Adolescents 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Byron L. Zamboanga
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lindsay S. Ham
    • 2
  • Janine V. Olthuis
    • 3
  • Matthew P. Martens
    • 4
  • Joel R. Grossbard
    • 5
  • Kathryne Van Tyne
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySmith CollegeNorthamptonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Department of Educational, School, and Counseling PsychologyUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  5. 5.Veterans Affairs, Department of Health ServicesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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