Risk factors for deviant behavior: A study of 16-18 year old adolescents in an urban city in the Midwest region of the U.S.

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The overall purpose of this study was to explore psychosocial and personality factors that influence risk taking behaviors among a sample of adolescents in religious based schools in the Midwest, with particular attention to the factors of group belonging and ethnic identity. There are many factors that contribute to and predict problem behavior in adolescents. The literature suggests that predictor models for risk behavior vary according to race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, social support systems and environmental factors. This study examined the relationship of multiple predictor variables to eleven behavioral outcomes. The analysis focuses on interactions between different theoretical domains in predicting outcomes in our specific population. The current study uses an existing database collected by the researcher. The study included 88 female and 72 male, Mid-Western high school students. The participants were between the ages of 16 and 18 years old, with a total of 160 students. The participants were 11th and 12th grade students in two different, single-sex Catholic high schools in an urban area in Ohio. The students who agreed to participate were administered the questionnaire in a group classroom setting. Four measures were used in this study: (1) The Health Behavior Questionnaire, High School Form (Jessor, Donovan, & Costa, 1991), (2) The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (Phinney, 1992), (3) Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1979), (4) A demographic questionnaire. These findings highlight how the theoretical domains of social environment, perceived environment, and personality interact to predict behavioral outcomes. The overall predictor model was found to have a small effect size on the outcome behavior variables within the sample studied, with the exception of Cultural Group Belonging. There is a great deal of support in the research and the findings of this study that indicate social environment as an important factor in predicting problem behavior. The findings support the need for further exploration and study of multiple variables in identifying and reducing harm. One of the most important findings to support harm reduction and education models was that higher tolerance for deviance and risk behavior predicted lower report of partaking in those behaviors. This implies that greater exposure and a less judgmental attitude toward others reduced the amount of potential risk in our sample. Specifically, a statistically significant relationship was found in the decrease of general deviance, sexual activity, smoking and an increase in the potential to use contraception. It is also important to acknowledge that a statistically significant relationship was found between self-assurance and self-esteem and a number of the outcome behaviors. Specifically, the increase in self-esteem and self-assurance predicted a decrease in general deviance, smoking, and thrill seeking behavior, and an increase in academic performance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Author-supplied keywords

  • *Behavior Problems
  • *Risk Factors
  • *Risk Taking
  • *Urban Environments

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  • Aimee Louise Adray

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