The influence of alcohol expectancies and relationship factors on young adult women's sexual risk taking decisions




Garcia, Natalia

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Introduction:This research examined the effects of alcohol and relationship factors on women's HIV-relevant decision making, as proposed by the Cognitive Mediation Model (CMM; Norris, Masters, & Zawacki, 2004). Participants and Methods: In this laboratory experiment, 108 female college students (Mage = 19.01, SD = 1.42) read a vignette describing a social interaction between a woman and a man who are on a date. Within the vignette, the beverage consumed by the characters (Alcohol vs. No Alcohol) and the length of the relationship (Shorter: Third Date vs. Longer: Tenth Date) between the characters was manipulated. Before reading the vignette, alcohol expectancies and relationship motivation were assessed. Participants' primary cognitive appraisals, secondary cognitive appraisals, and unprotected sexual intentions were assessed as dependent variables during three stopping points in the vignette. Results and Discussion: Path analysis was used to test the direct and indirect effects of the background factors (alcohol expectancies and relationship motivation) and manipulated situational variables (beverage condition and relationship length condition) on women's cognitive appraisals and sexual risk taking, as proposed by the CMM. Significant three-way interaction effects on primary cognitive appraisals were found among beverage and relationship length conditions with alcohol expectancies and relationship motivation. Primary cognitive appraisals were positively associated with secondary cognitive appraisals, which in turn predicted increased unprotected sexual intentions. Alcohol expectancies had a positive association with primary cognitive appraisals and directly increased unprotected sexual intentions. Results provided support towards the CMM and hold implications for theories regarding women's sexual risk-taking.


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Alcohol expectancies, Alcohol expectancy set, Relationship length, Relationship motivation, Sexual decision making, Women