Adolescent alcohol use and misuse : the influence of perceived family socialization factors

Foxcroft, David R. (David Robert), 1963-

Sociology; Human services
July 1993

Thesis or dissertation

© 1993 1963- David R (David Robert) Foxcroft. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Alcohol-related problems are a worldwide phenomenon and, in the latter part of the twentieth century, have generated substantial academic interest. Some of this research has focussed on the alcohol use and misuse of young people. The present thesis falls squarely into this area, bringing to the investigation of adolescent drinking behaviour an emphasis on family environment from recent studies into problem drinking. The aim of this study, therefore, was to increase understanding of the formation of early drinking patterns by investigating perceived family socialization factors associated with self-reported adolescent alcohol use and misuse. The results should have implications for alcohol education and intervention strategies in the U.K.. Research into problem drinking and drug use/misuse, previous adolescent drinking research, developmental psychology, social psychology, family psychology, family systems and the sociology of deviance all informed this thesis, by contributing to the development of a theoretical model of family socialization influences on adolescent drinking behaviour. Two main areas of family environmental influence are outlined in this model, and demographic and structural variables form a third component of the model. In this study, family process behaviours are viewed as those aspects of family relationships and interactional styles which are important in the socialization of adolescent behaviours and the internalization of norms, are non-alcohol specific, and are characterized by two major dimensions of family functioning - support and control. Underlying the role of alcohol-specific family behaviours in the development of adolescent drinking is family social learning, which is characterized by family models and social reinforcement for drinking. The main study involved administering a fully piloted questionnaire to a large, cross-sectional, random sample of school students, aged 11-18, in Humberside (N=4386). In addition, a small number of semi-structured interviews were carried out, and each written up as a case study, to supplement the quantitative questionnaire data. Data from the questionnaire were analyzed on three levels. Descriptive statistics are presented and comparisons made with information from previous studies. ANOVA's tested for disordinal interactions and for nonlinear effects of family socialization variables on adolescent drinking behaviour. As no marked non-linear patterns or disordinal interactions were found a third level of analysis was carried out, involving structural equation modelling techniques. The main results from the study are summarized below: (i) As expected, both heavy drinkers and non/very light drinkers were more likely to report extreme patterns of family socialization behaviours. Low support and control, indifferent parents and more frequent family drinking were all linked with more self-reported adolescent drinking, whilst high support and control, disapproving parents and non/light family drinking were all linked with less adolescent drinking. The family profile linked with normative levels of adolescent drinking was moderate support and control, a moderating parental attitude, and moderate (mid-range) family drinking. (ii) Multivariate analyses pointed to the predominantly independent and additive effect of each family socialization variable on adolescent drinking behaviour. (iii) On the whole, family social learning variables, particularly parental attitude, were more important statistical predictors of adolescent drinking behaviour than family process variables. (iv) Contrary to predictions, when each school year/sex group was examined separately, an interesting transitional effect was found. For younger males and females, family social learning variables were significant predictors of drinking behaviour, but family process variables were not. However, in older year groups, the effect of family support and control on , drinking behaviour increased whilst, in a complementary fashion, the effect of family models and, in particular, parental attitude, decreased. (v) As expected, knowledge of friends' drinking predicted the respondent's drinking behaviour, but the impact and pattern of family socialization influences on drinking behaviour was not moderated by this peer influence variable. In addition, knowledge of friends' drinking was not as important, statistically, as family social learning influences. The thesis concludes by discussing the above findings and commenting on the generalizability of the results and the implications of the results for current alcohol education paradigms and for future research. The value of the family socialization model for the investigation of other adolescent

Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
Lowe, Geoffrey
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