skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 201718 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Cognitive Predictors of Children's Attitudes Toward Alcohol and Cocaine
Journal: Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse  Volume:12  Issue:3  Dated:2003  Pages:19-44
Author(s): Lisa J. Bridges; Carol K. Sigelman; Albert B. Brewster; Diane B. Leach; Keisha L. Mack; Cheryl S. Rinehart; Alberto G. Sorongon
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 26
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Bethesda, MD 20892-9561
Grant Number: RO1 DA10578
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses age-related differences in elementary school-age children’s attitudes toward and intentions to use both alcohol and cocaine.
Abstract: This study explored the cognitive underpinnings of attitudes and intentions, asking which of a number of beliefs and understandings best predict attitudes and intentions. The cognitive predictors examined were basic familiarity with alcohol and cocaine, expectancies regarding the immediate behavioral and psychological effects of their use, beliefs about their long-term effects on health, and causal understanding of their effects on behavior. Participants were 217 children ranging in age from 6 to 12 and attending 2 Catholic parochial schools, chosen because of their locations in an ethnically diverse suburban community. Results show that, as they got older, children increasingly reported familiarity with both alcohol and cocaine and understood that their effects were in large part brain-mediated rather than due to a drug’s direct effects on peripheral parts of the body, such as the arms and legs. Although older children were also more likely than younger children to endorse positive expectancy statements about both alcohol and cocaine, negative expectancies prevailed at all ages and did not weaken with age. False beliefs about the long-term effects of alcohol (though not cocaine) became less common with age. It was found that anti-drug attitudes and intentions softened with age for alcohol but hardened with age for cocaine. Messages regarding cocaine were unambiguously negative for the majority of children. While the knowledge, belief, and understanding variables examined were associated with attitudes toward cocaine use, none of the cognitive predictors, alone or in combination, were directly associated with children’s self-reported intentions to use alcohol or cocaine. It may be beneficial to supplement drug prevention efforts with an approach that aims to influence children’s attitudes by targeting general knowledge about the drug, knowledge of the drug’s long-term effects, and causal understanding of how the drug alters functioning. 1 figure, 3 tables, 2 notes, 34 references
Main Term(s): Drug abuse education; Juvenile drug use
Index Term(s): Alcohol abuse education; Cocaine; Controlled Substances; Drug information; Drug prevention programs; Drug research; Public information
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.