This application proposes to continue research into the role movies play as an influence on adolescent drinking and related problem behaviors. We have successfully fielded a 4-wave longitudinal study of U.S. adolescents (ages 10-14 years at baseline). At each study wave we have assessed the adolescents'exposure to alcohol use in popular contemporary movies and their drinking behavior. Our recent analyses have indicated that viewing movie alcohol use is associated with initiation of drinking, with growth in the consumption of alcohol, and with alcohol problems. We have identified at least three mechanisms through which movie exposure may influence these behaviors: through the development of more favorable cognitions (prototypes &expectancies) as a result of seeing movie alcohol use, through effects of exposure to R-rated movies on growth in sensation seeking, and through changes in peer drinking. Finally, we have found that Black adolescents are significantly less responsive to movie exposure compared with Whites. We are following the cohort forward for an additional 3 waves as the adolescents enter high school (ages 15-19 years) and enriching the cohort with 600 Black adolescents in order to better evaluate racial differences in response to movie alcohol use.
We aim also to study the association between exposure to movie alcohol use and (a) late-onset alcohol initiation among previous nonusers, and (b) increases in alcohol consumption and transition to alcohol abuse among previous users. In addition we aim to examine the implications of exposure to R-rated movies and growth in sensation seeking, and to assess the ongoing relation between exposure to movie alcohol use, R-rated movie exposure, and reckless driving and delinquent behaviors. The analyses will be conducted with controls for variables that may be correlated with movie exposure and these behaviors (e.g., parenting style), and will examine alcohol exposure effects for participants of different ages and race/ethnicity. The work will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team with expertise in substance use theory and advanced analytic procedures. In the continuation period we plan to highlight the scientific importance of the findings to existing networks of prevention professionals so as to influence education and policy approaches to reducing underage drinking problems.

Public Health Relevance

We hypothesize that alcohol use teenagers see in movies influences their beliefs about alcohol use, increases the chances they will try alcohol, increases their consumption of alcohol, and increases the chances they will develop alcohol problems. This project aims to continue to study this relationship in a group of U.S. adolescents. Alcohol use is a major underlying cause of death during adolescence, mainly due to injuries sustained while driving under the influence of alcohol. Because exposure to alcohol in movies is universal, reducing such exposure could have major public health implications.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
Program Officer
Bloss, Gregory
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Dartmouth College
Schools of Medicine
United States
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