Social anxiety and cannabis cravings: The influences of parent injunctive norms and tension reduction expectancies

Dawn W. Foster, Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.
Anthony H. Ecker, Louisiana State University, Department of Psychology.
Michael J. Zvolensky, University of Houston, Department of Psychology ; MD Anderson Cancer Center, Behavioral Science Department.
Julia D. Buckner, Louisiana State University, Department of Psychology.


OBJECTIVES: Socially anxious cannabis users are influenced by cannabis expectancies and normative perceptions. The present study examines the influence of psychosocial factors on cannabis use vulnerability factors as the result of interactions between norms perceptions, social anxiety, and expectancies. METHODS: Participants were 149 (36.2% female) current cannabis users aged 18-36 (=21.01, =3.09). Hierarchical multiple regressions were employed to investigate the predictive value of the social anxiety X injunctive norms X expectancies interaction on cannabis cravings. RESULTS: A three-way interaction emerged in the prediction of cannabis cravings. Simple slopes analyses showed that among individuals with perceptions of greater parent approval of cannabis use (higher injunctive norms), social anxiety was associated with greater cannabis craving when expectancies regarding relaxation and tension reduction were greater (=2.54, =.01, β=1.12). CONCLUSIONS: Among cannabis users with perceptions of greater injunctive norms, social anxiety was associated with greater cannabis craving when tension reduction expectancies were greater. However, social anxiety was unrelated to cannabis craving when expectances were low. This suggests that cannabis craving among socially anxious adults was greatest when cannabis use was viewed as acceptable and expected to reduce tension, and highlights the importance of considering norms, expectancies, and social anxiety in understanding cannabis-related behaviors.