Risk-taking behavior in adolescence: Exploring the roles of family, peers, and school


Davis, Andrea LaDoris (2016). Risk-taking behavior in adolescence: Exploring the roles of family, peers, and school.


Adolescence is filled with continuous transitions and growth. Many adolescents are at-risk for involvement in risk-taking behavior due to insufficient socially supportive relationships to and within multiple social environments. Research has revealed specific contextual factors that are protective against and may even reduce various types of risk-taking behavior. The purpose of this study was to investigate associations between contextual factors and risk-taking behavior using a nationally representative sample of adolescents. Ecological theory and attachment theory were used as frameworks for viewing and understanding adolescent risk-taking behavior. Data for this study were taken from the Wave 1 and Wave 2 in-home questionnaires of the public-use dataset of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The samples in this study consisted of 4,908 adolescents in Wave 1 and 2,832 adolescents in Wave 2. Both samples were comprised of White and Black adolescents enrolled in grades 7-12. Statistical analyses were conducted on the overall samples and by ethnicity. Findings from correlational analyses indicated that there were significant relationships between the contextual factors and risk-taking behavior for the overall samples and ethnic samples across both waves. Comparisons of the contextual factors with risk-taking behavior revealed similar patterns that existed for some of the predictors across concurrent and longitudinal models. Multigroup analyses using structural equation modeling showed that metric invariance was not attained, however partial metric invariance was found for risk-taking behavior. Specific risk-taking behavior indicators (e.g., smoking and drinking) had factor loadings which differed among Black and White adolescents. Results for the multigroup analyses of the contextual model that employed partial metric invariance for risk-taking behavior showed no differences in the contextual factors for Black and White adolescents. The implications for practice, limitations, and suggestions for future research regarding associations between the contextual factors and risk-taking behavior were discussed.




Psychology Health and environmental sciences Education Adolescents Attachment theory Contextual factors Ecological theory Ethnicity Risk behavior Behavioral psychology Educational psychology Public health 0525:Educational psychology 0573:Public health 0


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Reference Type


Book Title

Educational Psychology and Research


Davis, Andrea LaDoris

Series Author(s)

Mueller, Christian E. Harrell-Williams Leigh M.

Year Published


Volume Number





The University of Memphis

City of Publication

Ann Arbor





Reference ID