Expectancies About the Effects of Alcohol on the Self and on Others as Determinants of Alcohol Policy Attitudes1


  • 1

    An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 39th International Institute on the Prevention and Treatment of Alcoholism, Trieste, Italy, June 11–16, 1995.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Angela Paglia, Addiction Research Foundation Site, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. 33 Russell Street. Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S1, Canada.


The present study brings together 2 separate lines of research in the alcohol field: alcohol expectancies and policy attitudes. Expectancies concerning the short- and long-term effects of drinking (e.g., aggression), were predicted to be stronger determinants of support for alcohol availability control when the target person was another, compared to when discussing effects of one's own drinking. In a population-based survey conducted in 1992, 804 current drinkers were asked about self and other alcohol expectancies, as well as attitudes toward various alcohol policies. Results showed a distinct self-other discrepancy, with people more likely to expect alcohol to have a greater effect over others than over themselves. Further, it was found that these other-expectancies were among the strongest predictors of favoring tighter alcohol controls. These findings lend support to findings of a self-other bias in social psychology, and provide insight as to the structure of public opinion on alcohol policy.