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Iowa State study finds mom's beliefs may impact their kids' alcohol use
Date:9/18/2008

lved in the self-fulfilling prophecy process," Madon said. "We know that mothers have self-fulfilling effects on their kids' alcohol use through the past work that we've done. What we wanted to do here was understand 'How is that happening? What are the mechanisms that are creating that?'

"We derived our hypothesis from three large, well-known theories in the social/psychological literature -- self-verification theory, research on conformity and social learning theory as it pertains to modeling processes," she said.

According to Madon, self-verification theory proposes that people are motivated to confirm what they already believe to be true about themselves. The study found strong evidence that a mother's beliefs regarding her child's likelihood of using alcohol altered her child's self-view in either a positive or negative direction. The child then validated that new self-view by acting consistently with it later on.

"What people believe ultimately has an impact on what actually occurs," Madon said. "But it's not just because they believe it. It's not magic. When we believe something -- even if we're wrong -- when we believe it's true, we act as though it is. And sometimes when you act as though something's true, your behaviors will cause the belief to become true.

"So I think the moral here is to help children develop positive and pro-social self-concepts about themselves, because children are likely to make choices that match how they view themselves," she said.

The study also found some evidence that modeling -- a tendency for people to learn by watching others -- may alter a child's alcohol use. Madon says they had a little bit of support for modeling as it related to friends' alcohol use.

"We hypothesized that mothers may influence who their children are friends with and that children may learn how to behave by watching what their friends do," she said.

But there was no evidence that children conf
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Contact: Mike Ferlazzo
ferlazzo@iastate.edu
515-294-8986
Iowa State University
Source:Eurekalert

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