Positive and negative alcohol expectancies (AEs) are beliefs about the consequences of alcohol use (e.g., happy, sad, lazy) and they predict patterns of adolescent and adult alcohol engagement in clinical and nonclinical samples. However, significantly less is known about predictors of AE in children, despite significant variability in AE early in and across development. To identify temporally ordered risk factors that precede AE, we evaluated the independent and interactive association of the functional 7-repeat polymorphism of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) genotype and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with respect to individual differences in positive-social, negative-arousal, sedated/impaired, and wild/crazy AE in school-age children (N = 149) prospectively followed from 6-9 to 8-13 years of age. Controlling for age, sex, and wave, DRD4 7+ carriers reported more wild/crazy AE, but DRD4 was unrelated to the remaining AE domains. ADHD symptoms independently predicted higher negative-arousal, sedated/impaired, and wild/crazy AE, but not positive-social. We also observed a significant interaction in which ADHD symptoms positively predicted wild/crazy AE only in youth with the 7-repeat DRD4 genotype; the same interaction marginally predicted sedated/impaired AE. No interactive effects were observed for the remaining AE domains. These preliminary results suggest that, among DRD4 youth, early ADHD symptoms predict that children will expect alcohol to have wild/crazy effects. We consider these results within a developmental framework to better understand pathways to and from youth alcohol problems.
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