Disinhibition and expectancy in risk for alcohol use: Comparing black and white college samples

D. M. McCarthy, T. L. Miller, G. T. Smith, J. A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Objective: This study tested several predictions of the "acquired preparedness" model in both black and white samples of college students. The acquired preparedness model holds that trait disinhibition affects alcohol-related learning and, ultimately, alcohol use. This model maintains that the reward focus typical of disinhibited individuals increases the likelihood of forming overly positive expectancies about the effects of alcohol. Alcohol expectancy, then, acts as a mediator of the relationship of disinhibition and drinking behavior. Method: Participants (N = 479, 341 women) were 279 white and 200 black college students. Self-reported alcohol expectancy, disinhibition and drinking behavior were assessed. Covariance structure analysis was used to test hypotheses separately for each sample, controlling for socioeconomic status. Results: Black participants scored significantly lower on disinhibition, expectancy and drinking. However, invariance testing indicated that the relationships between these variables were not different across groups. Results were consistent with the stated hypotheses in both samples - alcohol expectancy functioned as a mediator of the disinhibition-drinking relationship. Results did not differ across expectancy content. Conclusions: These results provide support for the validity of the acquired preparedness model. Despite mean differences in risk and drinking levels between black and white samples, psychosocial learning appears to mediate the influence of disinhibition on drinking for both groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-321
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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