A Longitudinal Study of The Relationship Between Peer Pressure, Risk-Taking, and Substance Use Among Adolescents

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Abstract Summary

Previous research indicates that relationships with deviant peers are associated with increased smoking and increased alcohol use. In addition, adolescents do not have fully developed prefrontal cortexes, which affects decision making and social behaviors. One implication of this is that adolescents believe that they are not susceptible to harm and actually search for risk-taking experiences. This study examines whether one’s risk-taking attitudes mediate the relationship between peer pressure and substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana use) among adolescents using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) Children and Young Adults. The sample included children and young adults of diverse socio-economic, ethnic, and geographical backgrounds. Mediation analyses were conducted using structural equation modelling. Results will allow for researchers to better understand the relationship between peer pressure, risk-taking, and substance use among adolescents. 

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