SummaryAlcohol consumption is increasing among young people anddifferent reasons have been given to understand why young people engage inexcessive drinking.
It is understood that young people drink because they findit pleasurable and it is a huge part of their social lives. The ‘PrototypeWillingness Model’ in the Davies et al., (2017) paper claims that alcohol consumption is a result of socialcompanion which influences the willingness to drink and subsequent behaviour. Italso claims that risky drinking in young people can be influenced by ‘implicitattitudes’ due to regular exposure to alcohol over time. The reviewed paper by Davies et al.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
, 2017 aimed to assesswhether the concept of ‘implicit alcohol attitudes’ would be able to improvethe prediction of an individual’s willingness and behaviour towards riskydrinking. The study focused on the social reaction pathway of the ‘PrototypeWillingness Model’ which states that young people’s drinking behaviour isunplanned and part of a social context. It claims that the image young peopleassociate with drinkers and non-drinkers can be influential in predicting theirwillingness and behaviour towards drinking because of self-image and socialcomparison. Secondly, another aim of the study was to assess whether thisdifference would be found among school pupils and university students. Thisstudy was a cross sectional study and 501 individuals participated in theexperiment. 230 of these participants were school pupils and 271 of theparticipants were university students.
Explicit measures of alcohol consumptionwere measured using prototype perception, willingness, drunkenness, harms andintentions questionnaires. Additionally, participants completed an implicitmeasure of alcohol attitudes using the Implicit Association Test (IAT). Dataanalysis consisted of Pearson’s correlation to assess the relationship betweenthe study measures. T-tests were also used to test the differences in IAT scoresand hierarchical regression was used to assess the implicit alcohol attitudesand explicit measures in predicting the willingness or behaviour to engageindividuals in risky drinking. Participants who did not complete the IAT wereexcluded from the analysis. To conclude Davies et al., 2017 found that there was a weakcorrelation between implicit alcohol attitudes and explicit measures.
Lastlytheir study found that implicit alcohol attitudes could distinguish thedifference between willingness and intention among school pupils and universitystudents. Among school pupils, willingness was strong predictor of behaviourcompared to implicit alcohol attitude. Whereas this differed among universitystudents as implicit attitudes added to the prediction of behaviour overintention and willingness. A critical evaluation of Davies et al.
, 2017’s methods,implications for future research and impact upon the health psychology field isdiscussed. ReviewThe reasons why young people consume alcohol and drink excessivelyhas been analysed using the ‘Prototype Willingness Model’. The model explains whyyoung people consume alcohol using the social reaction pathway which claimsthat young people’s behaviour tends to occur in social circumstances and isoften unpredictable (Gerrard, Gibbons, Houlihan, Stock, & Pomery,2008).The ‘Prototype Willingness Model’ has been criticized by others in terms ofunderstanding alcohol consumption since willingness to engage in a behaviourcannot be measured simply using prototype evaluations which one has toinfluence them to drink (Litt & Lewis, 2017). Additionally, the PrototypeWillingness Model has been criticized by the authors themselves as it doesn’tcapture the prosperity of an individual to act without thinking about the future(Davies et al., 2017). The work conducted by Davis et al.
, 2017 was unique in thesense that they were the first to investigate implicit attitudes related toalcohol within the Prototype Willingness Model framework. Implicit alcoholattitudes taps into past behaviour which form association in memory andinfluence behaviour in an automatic way (Thush & Wiers, 2007). Those who have positiveoutcomes associated with alcohol consumption are more likely to drink comparedto those who do not hold these beliefs (Frings, Melichar, & Albery, 2016).
Onthe other hand, explicit alcohol attitudes state the importance of value,attitude and expectancy in associating an individual engaging in an alcoholicbehaviour (Pieters et al.,2010). The explicit alcohol attitudes acknowledge thepersonal experiences towards alcohol consumption and their motives to drink(Pieters et al.,2010).Explicit alcohol attitudes are made intentionally,accessed consciously under the individual’s cognitive control(Pieters etal.,2010).
These differ compared to implicit alcohol attitudes which argue thatbehaviour is a result of automatic responses in the brain. The use of implicitattitudes on top of the social reaction pathway revealed insights into alcoholrelated cognition that differ to explicit measures which involveself-representation among individuals and thoughtful responses compared to moreimpulsive initial reactions in implicit measures (Payne & Lee, 2017). Implicit attitudes measures havebeen found to be less susceptible to bias as they measure the strength ofunconscious association that are not easily spontaneous (Frings et al., 2016).In the current study, they found that among university students,implicit alcohol attitudes added to the prediction of behaviour, abovewillingness and intention (Davies et al., 2017).
University students, regardlessof drinking experience were frequently exposed to alcohol as part of universityculture (Webb, Ashton, Kelly, & Kamali, 1996). This would therefore explainwhy implicit alcohol attitudes among university students added to the predictionof behaviour compared to school pupils. Intention was associated with highlevels of drunkenness for university students compared to school pupils (Davies et al., 2017). In addition, work by Daviset al., 2017 found that that willingness and not intention was a factor inpredicting behaviour among school pupils engaging in risking scenarios.
Similarresults were found the previous year by Davis et al., 2016 who showed that amongyoung adolescents, willingness was higher than intention but among olderadolescents and young adults, intention was stronger as the experience ofdrinking increases. In line with the ‘Prototype Willingness Model’, the study byDavies et al 2017 showed that in adolescents, willingness was a strong reasonfor engaging in risky behaviour such as drinking and for young adults, drinkingwas associated with experience and intention. For adolescents, drinking alcoholis not their intention but their willingness to take a risk that determinestheir behaviour whereas this differs for young adults since drinking isintentional in driving them to a behaviour (Gibbons et al., 1998). Therefore, interventionsaimed at reducing alcohol consumption should be able to distinguish the twomain reasons: willingness foradolescents and intention university students in engaging in drinking.
Theyshould focus on the two groups separately and thus come up with differentinterventions. Moreover, being able to understand when and why young peoplestart drinking alcohol is a continual important psychological and public healthproblem (Davies et al., 2016).The work by Davis et al.
, 2017 was insightful because itshowed that the implicit alcohol attitudes alongside the social pathway can be usedas intervention in reducing alcohol consumption in young people. Implicitalcohol attitudes are able to capture experiences of those with previous knowledgeof drinking and their associations with drinking alongside the Prototype WillingnessModel used to predict behaviour (Thush & Wiers, 2007). Positive implicit attitudeswere associated with higher levels of drunkenness for university studentscompared to lower levels of drunkenness among pupils (Davies et al.,2017).However, the current study by Davies et al., 2017 can be criticised for notrecognising the importance of explicit alcohol attitudes in terms of why anindividual might engage in risk behaviour such as drinking. Notwithstanding those ?ndings,implicit attitudes are suggested to play an importantrole in guiding alcohol consumption(Houben & Wiers, 2008; Payne, Govorun, , 2008; Thush & Wiers,2007).
Because implicit attitudes are suggested to guideautomatic behaviour (Fazio, 1990b;Olson & Fazio, 2009), interfering automaticassociations might lead to morecontrolled behaviour in alcohol consumption and, inturn, to decreased consumption (Thush& Wiers, 2007Explicit alcohol attitudes have been criticized as attitudesand expectancy are captured by self-report studies not giving true reflectionor under representation of alcohol consumption (McPherson & Harris 2013).Implicit alcohol attitudes, however, can be understood by implicit AssociationTests (IAT) which access the unconscious bias through memory association (Payne & Lee, 2017). Davies et al., 2017 fullyacknowledge that to be able to understand the role of the Prototype WillingnessModel, both implicit alcohol attitudes and explicit alcohol association shouldbe adapted alongside the social reaction pathway in predicting behaviour. Tofully to be able to understand why young people engage in drinking, theirbeliefs, attitudes and expectancy need to be considered to predict behaviour. Implicit Alcohol tests have been criticized as participantscan forged newly formed attitudes rather that’s what’s expected of them. It wasfound that when individuals were not aware of the fact that objects were pairedwith either positive or negative stimuli it was impossible for them to knowwhich attitudes they forged (Houwer & Bruycker, 2007). Whereas when participantswere aware, they could easily create new ideas and know which attitudes toforged (Houwer & Bruycker, 2007).
Although IATs are reliable, theyhave been criticized as individuals are still not immune to forged implicitmeasures therefore it’s hard to assess how accurate implicit alcohol attitudesare in predicting behaviour of individuals in engaging in risky drinking. However,the novelty of this study by Davies et al., 2017 is that two modes of the IATwere used which were paper and pen and a computerized test.
They analysed the scoresof the participants who reported to have been drunk (ranging from zero to 6 occasions)in the last month and found no significant differences between the ImplicitAssociation Test scores of the groups regardless of the type of measure (Davies et al., 2017). Furthermore, fundamental use of statistical methods andanalysis are used to communicate research and this studyused hierarchical regression to assess whether implicit attitudes would predictbehaviour of self-report drunkenness over and above intention and willingness.
When looking at the sample as a whole, the model predicted 19.7 of the variancein behaviour R²=.197, p.001. When implicit attitudes were added a smallvariance of 1.
4 was found but it was found to be significant R²=.014,p=.009). Davies et al., 2017 also used binary moderator to assess whetherexperience with alcohol and exposure to alcohol within the university andschool pupils would differ. For university students, they found the interactionbetween implicit attitudes and experience (p= 0.
003) to be significant. Hierarchicalregression has been found to be effective as it shows whether variables of yourinterest explain a statistically significant amount of variance in thedependent variable after accounting for all variables. The strength of thisstudy is that when implicit attitudes were assessed with other variables suchas intentions, drunkenness, harms, drinker similarity and non-drinkerfavourability there was a weak correlation. However, hierarchical regressiondid find that with university students, intention and alcohol attitudes wereassociated with predicting behaviour whereas willingness was a factor inpredicting behaviour among adolescents. Explicit cognitions refer tocognitions that can beaccessed consciously, are intentionaland under indivi-duals’ cognitive control. To measureexplicit alcohol-related cognitions, people are askedabout their attitudestowards alcohol, personalexpectancies about the effectsof alcohol consumption or motives to drinkExplicit cognitions refer tocognitions that can beaccessed consciously, are intentionaland under indivi-duals’ cognitive control. To measureexplicit alcohol-related cognitions, people are askedabout their attitudestowards alcohol, personalexpectancies about the effectsof alcohol consumption or motives todrink.Methodology limitation There are various methodology issues associated with theDavies et al.
, (2017) paper which include the use of self-reports in measuringalcohol consumption among school pupils and university students. Lintonen etal., (2004) noted that social desirability associated with a drug can lower thevalidity in reporting its use. For example, the more stigmatized alcoholconsumption is, the high chance an individual would not report taking part inthat activity. This is shown in previousstudies which found that university students may under report their alcoholalthough assured of confidentiality (Davis, Thake, & Vilhena, 2010). In addition, there are otherfactors associated with self-reports which include the accuracy of anindividual being able to recall what’s asked of them.
For example, frequency ofdrunkenness assessed how many times in the last month the participant had beendrunk therefore limiting accuracy of number given by the participant. Thecurrent study by Davis et al. (2017) found weak correlation between explicitmeasures and implicit alcohol attitudes.
Lastly self-reports can also beaffected by the environment in which they take place, in this case the studytook place in a class therefore this can influence respondent’s answers (Breneret al., 1995). However, Bjarnason (1995) noted that situational place does notaffect respondent context and that it made no difference if the questionnairewas administered by a teacher or a research assistant.
The study by Davies etal., 2017 only captures a snap- shot of willingness, intentions and alcoholimplicit attitudes in predicting drinking behaviour. Perhaps if a longitudinalstudy was done there would be a high correlation in being able to use implicitattitudes with the social reaction pathway in predicting drinking behaviourIn order to understand willingness to drink the word ‘likelyto drink’ rather than ‘willing to drink’ was used due to adolescentsmisunderstanding the meaning of ‘willing’ based on previous research by (Rivis& Sheeran, 2013).
The use of the word ‘likely’ used in the study maycapture expected behaviour rather than willingness of an individual to engagein a behaviour. Perhaps if the word ‘willing’ was used it’s possible thatschool pupils would have reported in engaging in risky behaviour compared touniversity students and this could explain the difference that was found amongthe two groups.Those who took part in the study can be seen as a limitation.The sample consisted of 501 participants- 271 university students and 230school pupils. The mean population in this sample was 19 years old.
It isunderstandable why the researchers used university student and schools as theyare convenient to recruit (Kazdin, 1992). Additionally, alcohol consumption ishighest among those ages 16-24 (Office for National Statics, 2016) and by theage of 16, 90% of adolescents would have tried alcohol and by the time they goto university, alcohol plays a significant part in their lives (Craigs, et al., 2011).
However, it is clear that Daviset al., (2017) sample is non-representative of the general population and Hayes (2000)notes that school pupils and university students are young people’s populationswhose lives differs compared to the general population not studying howevergenerally, the study still encompasses young people. Gender is key in assessingalcohol consumption as men are more likely than women to consume more alcoholand cause more problems doing so (Word Health Organization 2014).
In this study63% of the participants were female however gender difference was notconsidered.DiscussionTo conclude, Davies et al., (2017) study was thefirst to explore the association of implicit attitudes to the PrototypeWillingness Model in young people. Although implicit alcohol attitudes onlyshowed a small significant difference in prediction of behaviour overwillingness and intention it was key in highlighting new concepts such asexperience in predicting an individual’s likelihood to drink.
The PrototypeWillingness Model is mostly about the role of willingness and intention in thedevelopment of alcohol behaviour, yet implicit alcohol attitudes show thatalcohol behaviour is linked to past behaviours and memories which can predict whetheran individual is likely to drink