The Effects of Alcohol Expectancy Set and Gender on Sexual Decision Making




Vela, Terue T.

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Alcohol consumption is a precursor to high-risk sexual behaviors, including unprotected sexual intercourse. This study examines the effects of participant gender and alcohol expectancy on intentions to engage in unprotected sex portrayed in an experimental vignette. One hundred and sixty college students read a vignette describing a hypothetical social interaction between a man and a woman who were on a date. Within the vignette, portrayed alcohol consumption (Portrayed alcohol consumption vs. No portrayed alcohol consumption) was manipulated. The vignette ended with the characters addressing the absence of obtaining a condom and the protagonist had to make the decision of whether they would engage in unprotected sex with the different gender partner. Within the theoretical framework of the Cognitive Mediation Model of Sexual Decision Making (Norris, Masters, & Zawacki, 2004; Zawacki, 2011), participants' appraisal of sexual potential, appraisal of sexual risk, and unprotected sex intentions were assessed as dependent variables during three stopping points in the vignette. Results of conditional process analysis revealed that appraisal of sexual potential mediated the relationship between portrayed alcohol consumption and unprotected sex intentions. Furthermore, the direct relationship between portrayed alcohol consumption and unprotected sex intentions was moderated by participant gender, with the effect of portrayed alcohol consumption being found significant only in the male condition. These findings hold implications for interventions to improve young adults' sexual decision making in sexually risky encounters.


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Social psychology, Alcohol expectancy set, Gender, Sexual decision making