Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 253-277

First online:

Deviant behavior and self-enhancement in adolescence

  • Howard B. KaplanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine

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The hypothesis that “among initially high self-derogation subjects deviant response patterns (alcohol and drug abuse, delinquent patterns, etc.) are related to subsequent decreases in self-derogation” was tested with data from a longitudinal survey study of adolescents. Among higher and lower socioeconomic status (SES) males initially high self-derogation subjects who adopted (relative to those who did not adopt) any of several deviant patterns manifested significantly greater subsequent base-free decreases in self-derogation. For higher SES females only narcotics use (and among lower SES females no deviant pattern) was significantly related to subsequent decrease in self-derogation. Together with collateral data, these results indicated that where the deviant patterns were compatible with valued social roles and the subjects were able to defend against negative responses by others (but not under mutually exclusive conditions), deviant patterns functioned to reduce self-rejecting feelings among initially highly self-derogating subjects.