The Myth of Conformity: Adolescents and Abstention from Unhealthy Drinking Behaviors

Citation

Rees, Carter & Wallace, Danielle (2014). The Myth of Conformity: Adolescents and Abstention from Unhealthy Drinking Behaviors. Social Science & Medicine. vol. 108C pp. 34-45

Abstract

Adolescent peer groups with pro-drinking group norms are a well-established source of influence for alcohol initiation and use. However, classic experimental studies of social influence, namely ‘minority influence’, clearly indicate social situations in which an individual can resist conforming to the group norm. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (“Add Health”), a nationally representative sample of adolescents, we find evidence that being a non-drinking adolescent does not unilaterally put youth at risk for drinking onset when faced with a friendship network where the majority of friends drink. Our results also show that a non-drinking adolescent with a majority of drinking friends is significantly less likely to initiate alcohol abuse if he or she has a minority of non-drinking friend(s). Furthermore, a drinking adolescent with a majority of friends who drink has a decreased probability of continuing to drink and has overall lower levels of consumption if he or she has a minority of friends who do not drink. Our findings recognize that adolescent in-group friendships are a mix of behavioral profiles and can perhaps help adolescents continue or begin to abstain alcohol use even when in a friendship group supportive of alcohol use.

URL

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953614000677

Keyword(s)

adolescent drinking

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Social Science & Medicine

Author(s)

Rees, Carter
Wallace, Danielle

Year Published

2014

Volume Number

108C

Pages

34-45

DOI

10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.01.040

Reference ID

4844