Background: Multiple theoretical frameworks identify attitudes and expectancies as important predictors of alcohol behavior. Few studies have examined demographic predictors of these evaluative and belief-based cognitive mediators in the general population, and none have examined them in large-scale studies of Hispanics, a group at higher risk for drinking behavior and problems. This study probes the extent to which dimensions of attitudes and expectancies share common demographic predictors in a large sample of Puerto Ricans, Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and South/Central Americans.
Methods: The 2006 Hispanic Americans Baseline Alcohol Survey (HABLAS) used a multistage cluster sample design to interview 5,224 individuals randomly selected from households in Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Houston, and Los Angeles. This study focused on 2,773 respondents self-identified as current drinkers. Multiple linear regression was used to identify predictors of positive and negative dimensions of attitudes and expectancies, controlling for various background variables.
Results: Religious affiliation selectively predicted alcohol attitudes, with Catholics having more positive and fewer negative attitudes than other religious groups. Hispanic group selectively predicted alcohol expectancies, with Cuban-Americans having less positive and less negative expectancies than other groups. Being U.S.-born or male predicted more positive attitudes and expectancies, but birthplace and gender did not predict negative dimensions of attitudes or expectancies. Higher acculturation and more education were linked to a decreased tendency to agree with any item. Age was positively and negatively associated with negative expectancies and positive attitudes, respectively, and having never been married, higher income, and unemployment were each linked to fewer negative attitudes.
Conclusions: Although there is some overlap, attitudes and expectancies are influenced by different sociodemographic variables. Positive and negative dimensions of those constructs also show distinct patterns of relations. Prevention and treatment programs targeting cognitive mediators of behavior should be mindful of these differential determinants and future modeling endeavors should incorporate them.