INTRODUCTION: We apply a social contextual perspective based on Bronfenbrenner's ecology of human development theory to understanding development of youth cigarette smoking. We examine the contributions of family, peer, school, and neighborhood contexts. Context attributes examined were derived from social learning and social control theories.
METHODS: Data are from 6,544 youth who participated in at least one of five waves of data collection between Spring 2002 and Spring 2004, 1,663 randomly selected parents who participated in one or more of three waves of data collection in the same time period; and the U.S. Census. Three-level hierarchical growth models were used to examine the contributions of time-varying measures of the four social contexts to development of smoking from age 11-17 years. Interactions between variables were examined within and between social contexts.
RESULTS: Attributes of each social context made independent contributions to adolescent smoking development; there also were significant interactions between variables from different contexts indicating joint contextual effects. Attributes of the social bond moderated exposure to models of smoking within and between the family and peer contexts.
DISCUSSION: Results suggest the value of a social contextual perspective in research on the etiology of youth smoking development as well as the utility of guidance by social learning and social control theories. While all contexts were implicated in adolescent smoking, the family and peer contexts were primarily implicated, with findings suggesting the need for consideration of interactive effects between social learning and social control variables within and between these contexts.
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