Perceptions of postdrinking anxiety: effect of sex, beverage, and sex of companion

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

The purpose of the current studies was to look at the importance of contextual and individual difference factors, as well as sex differences, on the expected effects of alcohol. The vulnerability and gender role violation hypotheses were examined as explanations for previous findings of sex differences in anxiety responses to alcohol consumption within heterosexual social situations. In the first study, the contextual variables of sex of the target being rated and sex of target’s companion as well as the factors of sex of subject and beverage consumed were examined to clarify the role of anxiety related to the presence of opposite sex companions and anxiety. The factors of sex of companion, sex of target, and beverage were manipulated within a vignette format. Subjects were asked to read the vignette and to answer questions about the main character in the vignette. There were significant beverage by sex of subject interactions indicating that male subjects expected alcohol to reduce impairment and increase social appeal relative to female subjects who tended to expect that consuming alcohol would decrease social appeal and increase impairment. In addition, male subjects expected alcohol to decrease anxiety and increase social skill while female subjects did not expect such an increase and, instead, expected a decrease in social skill in male targets drinking alcohol and no effect on anxiety. These findings did not support either the hypothesis of vulnerability or of gender role violation as explanations of sex differences in alcohol expectancies. Based on the findings of the first study, the goals of the second study were to tease apart possible relationships that individual differences in gender role, sexual description of target and additional motivation to impress the companion could have with feelings of anxiety and other alcohol expectancies in a situation in which both alcohol and being with an opposite sex companion are involved. This was done within a vignette format. Described target sexuality, motivation to impress, and discomfort with behaviors outside the traditional feminine gender role were not found to moderate alcohol expectancies. Interpretation of the results in relation to the vulnerability and gender role violation hypotheses and directions for future research are discussed.