Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alison Looby


Native American (NA) alcohol use is problematic and concerning. Many of the factors related to general alcohol use are already understood. However, the majority of this research has been conducted using samples primarily consisting of Caucasian (CA) subjects. One factor that is significantly related to and predicts alcohol use among CAs is alcohol expectancy effects, which are beliefs one holds about the expected consequences, positive or negative, of using alcohol. Whether or not these findings are applicable toward understanding alcohol use in NA populations is questionable. Data were collected from 51 NA and 51 CA college students on alcohol use, alcohol expectancies, problems associated with alcohol use, and childhood experiences surrounding alcohol use to determine whether expectancy effects and culture-specific experiences may explain differences in alcohol use between the two groups. It was hypothesized that NAs would report more drinking, more problematic use associated with drinking, stronger positive alcohol expectancies, and more negative childhood experiences surrounding alcohol than CAs. It was also hypothesized that ethnic differences in alcohol use would be explained by differences in expectancy effects, and that early childhood experiences are the mediating factor between ethnicity and expectancies. In terms of past month drinking and past six month binge drinking, results showed that CAs drank significantly more than NAs, though NAs experienced significantly more negative childhood experiences surrounding alcohol than CAs. This suggests that alcohol use in NA students may not be as prevalent or problematic as alcohol use in the general NA population. The mediational hypotheses were not supported, suggesting that expectancy effects may not operate in the same way for NAs as for CAs, that perhaps expectancies are not the major link to alcohol use for NAs, and also that childhood experiences are not the major link for positive alcohol expectancy formation in NAs.