First Advisor

Laurie Skokan

Term of Graduation

Fall 1994

Date of Publication

Fall 12-5-1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Teenagers -- Alcohol use, Alcoholism, Attribution (Social psychology), Teenagers -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 56 pages)


Teen problem-drinking is a pervasive problem in our society. Teens with drinking problems utilize treatment centers and then return to school attempting to stay sober. However, many return to affiliate with problem drinkers instead of with non-drinkers, and risk for relapse is high. One explanation may be that teens without drinking problems do not accept teen problem drinkers into their peer group due to negative reactions toward problem drinkers. One way to examine their attitudes is to examine differences between teen problem drinkers and non-drinkers regarding causal attributions. Attribution theory proposes that various attributions will elicit different emotional reactions and will motivate teens to behave in certain ways. The purpose of this study was to determine if teens with prior experience in treatment (problem drinkers) and teens without that experience (non-problem drinkers) make different causal attributions for teen problem drinking. Furthermore, group differences in emotional reactions, beliefs about how to offset the problem, and help-giving behaviors were also examined. This study also sought to determine whether there was a predictable link between attributions and emotional reactions, and between emotional reactions and help-giving behaviors. One hundred twenty-one teenagers aged 13 to 20 were recruited as subjects, 79 from Portland area schools and 42 from treatment centers. Subjects completed a written survey measuring causal attributions for teen problem drinking, emotional reactions toward teen problem drinkers, beliefs regarding how to offset the problem, and help-giving behaviors. Four MANOVAs were used to determine group differences. Results revealed group differences on causal attributions, emotional reactions, and offset controllability, but not on help-giving behaviors. Two multiple regressions were used to determine whether attributions predicted emotional reactions and whether emotional reactions predicted help-giving behaviors; results revealed no link. Although results revealed group differences, these were found not to be consistent with the hypothesis based on attribution theory. Results did reveal positive outcomes regarding attitudes toward teen problem drinkers by non-problem drinkers, which is important as it suggests that teens without prior experience in treatment may be more accepting of teen problem drinkers than was expected.


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