Negative Adult Influences and the Protective Effects of Role Models: A Study with Urban Adolescents

Empirical Research

Abstract

We investigated whether role models (individuals adolescents look up to) contributed to the resilience of adolescents who were exposed to negative nonparental adult influences. Our sample included 659 African American, ninth-grade adolescents. We found that adolescents’ exposure to negative adult behavior was associated with increased externalizing, internalizing, and substance using behaviors, as well as more negative school attitudes and behavior. We found that role models had protective effects on externalizing and internalizing behaviors and compensatory effects on school outcomes. Collectively, our findings indicate that role models can contribute to the resilience of African American adolescents who are exposed to negative nonparental adult behavior.

Keywords

Resilience Adolescents Role models Negative adult influences 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the youth for participating in this study and the Flint Community Schools for their support. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

References

  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, E. (1990). Streetwise: Race, class, and change in an urban community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Aspy, C. B., Oman, R. F., Vesely, S. K., McLeroy, K., Rodine, S., & Marshall, L. (2004). Adolescent violence: The protective effects of youth assets. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82, 268–276.Google Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1971). Social learning theory. New York: General Learning Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundations of Thought and Action. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  6. Bandura, A., & Walters, R. H. (1963). Social learning and personality development. Holt, Rinehart and Winston: New York.Google Scholar
  7. Beam, M. R., Chen, C., & Greenberger, E. (2002). The nature of adolescents’ relationships with their “very important” nonparental adults. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 305–325. doi: 10.1023/A:1014641213440.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blyth, D. A., Hill, J. P., & Theil, K. (1982). Early adolescents’ significant others: Grade and gender differences in perceived relationships with familial and non-familial adults and young people. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 11, 425–450. doi: 10.1007/BF01538805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bryant, A. L., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2003). Role models and psychosocial outcomes among African American adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 18, 36–67. doi: 10.1177/0743558402238276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coleman, J. C., & Hendry, L. B. (1990). The Nature of Adolescence (2nd ed.). Routledge: London & New York.Google Scholar
  11. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Larson, R. (1984). Being adolescent: Conflict and growth in the teenage years. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  12. Derogatis, L. R., & Spencer, P. M. (1982). The brief symptom inventory (BSI): Administration and scoring procedures. Division of Medical Psychology, John Hopkins University School of Medicine: Baltimore.Google Scholar
  13. DuBois, D. L., & Silverthorn, N. (2005). Characteristics of natural mentoring relationships and adolescent adjustment: Evidence from a national study. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 26, 69–92. doi: 10.1007/s10935-005-1832-4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity: Youth & Crisis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  15. Fergus, S., & Zimmerman, M. (2005). Adolescent resilience: A framework for understanding healthy development in the face of risk. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 399–419. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.26.021304.144357.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Galbo, J. J. (1983). Adolescents’ perceptions of significant adults. Adolescence, 18, 417–427.Google Scholar
  17. Garmzey, N., Masten, A. S., & Tellegen, A. (1984). The study of stress and competence in children: A building block of developmental psychopathology. Child Development, 55, 97–111. doi: 10.2307/1129837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greenberger, E., Chen, C., & Beam, M. R. (1998). The role of “very important” nonparental adults in adolescent development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 321–343. doi: 10.1023/A:1022803120166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hamilton, S. F., & Darling, N. (1996). Mentors in adolescents’ lives. In K. Hurrelman & S. F. Hamilton (Eds.), Social problems and social contexts in adolescence (pp. 199–215). Hawthorne, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  20. Hartos, J., & Simons-Morton, B. (2002). Parenting practices and adolescent risky driving: A three-month prospective study. Health Education & Behavior, 29, 194–206. doi: 10.1177/1090198102029002005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. (1992). Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: Implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 64–105. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heide, K. M. (1997). Juvenile homicide in America: How can we stop the killing? Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 15, 203–220. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0798(199721)15:2<203::AID-BSL270>3.0.CO;2-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hendry, L. B., Roberts, W., Glendinning, A., & Coleman, J. C. (1992). Adolescents’ perceptions of significant individuals in their lives. Journal of Adolescence, 15, 255–270. doi: 10.1016/0140-1971(92)90029-5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hirsch, B. J., Mickus, M., & Boerger, R. (2002). Ties to influential adults among black and white adolescents: Culture, social class and family networks. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 289–303. doi: 10.1023/A:1014689129369.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lockwood, P. (2006). “Someone like me can be successful”: Do college students need same-gender role models? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 36–46. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6402.2006.00260.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Luthar, S. S. (2003). Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Luthar, S. S., & Cicchetti, D. (2000). The construct of resilience: Implications for interventions and social policies. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 857–885. doi: 10.1017/S0954579400004156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Luthar, S. S., Cicchetti, D., & Becker, B. (2000). The construct of resilience: A critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development, 71, 543–562. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Masten, A. S., Garmezy, N., Tellegen, A., Pelligrini, D. S., Larkin, K., & Larsen, A. (1988). Competence and stress in schoolchildren: The moderating effects of individual and family qualities. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 29, 745–764. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1988.tb00751.x.Google Scholar
  30. McClelland, G. H., & Judd, C. M. (1993). Statistical difficulties of detecting interactions and moderator effects. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 376–390. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.114.2.376.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. McMahon, S. D., Singh, J. A., Garner, L. S., & Benhorn, S. (2004). Taking advantage of opportunities: Community involvement, well-being, and urban youth. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 34, 262–265.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Meeus, W. (1989). Parental and peer support in adolescence. In K. Hurrelmann & U. Engel (Eds.), The Social World of Adolescents (pp. 167–183). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  33. Nakao, K., & Treas, J. (1990a). Computing 1989 occupational prestige scores (GSS Methodological Report No. 70). Chicago: National Opinion Research Center.Google Scholar
  34. Nakao, K., & Treas, J. (1990b). The 1989 socioeconomic index of occupations: Construction of the 1989 occupational prestige scores. (GSS Methodological Report No. 74). Chicago: National Opinion Research Center.Google Scholar
  35. Oman, R. F., Vesely, S. K., Aspy, C. B., McLeroy, K. R., Rodine, S., & Marshall, L. (2004a). The potential protective effect of youth assets on adolescent alcohol and drug use. American Journal of Public Health, 94, 1425–1430.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Oman, R. F., Vesely, S. K., Kegler, M. C., McLeroy, K. R., & Aspy, C. B. (2003). A youth development approach to profiling sexual abstinence. American Journal of Health Behavior, 27, S80–S93.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Oman, R. F., Vesely, S. K., McLeroy, K. R., Harris-Wyatt, V., Aspy, C. B., Rodine, S., et al. (2004b). Reliability and validity of the Youth Asset Survey (YAS). The Journal of Adolescent Health, 31, 247–255. doi: 10.1016/S1054-139X(02)00363-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Prentice, D. A., & Miller, D. T. (1992). When small effects are impressive. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 160–164. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Procidano, M. E., & Heller, K. (1983). Measures of perceived social support from friends and from family: Three validation studies. American Journal of Community Psychology, 11, 1–24. doi: 10.1007/BF00898416.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rhodes, J., Ebert, L., & Fischer, K. (1992). Natural mentors: An overlooked resource in social networks. American Journal of Community Psychology, 20, 445–462. doi: 10.1007/BF00937754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Shade, B. J. (1983). The social success of Black youth: The impact of significant others. Journal of Black Studies, 14, 137–150. doi: 10.1177/002193478301400202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shoemaker, D. J. (1996). Theories of Delinquency: An examination of explanations of delinquent behavior (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Simons-Morton, B. G., Hartos, J. L., & Haynie, D. L. (2004). Prospective analysis of peer and parent influences on minor aggression among early adolescents. Health Education & Behavior, 31, 22–33. doi: 10.1177/1090198103258850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Taylor, R. L. (1989). Black youth, role models and the social construction of identity. In R. L. Jones (Ed.), Black adolescents (pp. 155–174). Berkeley, CA: Cobb & Henry Publishers.Google Scholar
  45. Vesely, S. K., Harris-Wyatt, V., Oman, R. F., Aspy, C. B., Kegler, M. C., Rodine, S., et al. (2004). The potential protective effects of youth assets from adolescent sexual risk behaviors. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 34, 356–365.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Werner, E. E. (1995). Resilience in development. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 4, 81–85. doi: 10.1111/1467-8721.ep10772327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. White, J. (1984). The psychology of Blacks: An Afro-American perspective. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  48. Yancey, A. K., Siegel, J. M., & McDaniel, K. L. (2002). Role models, ethnic identity, and health-risk behaviors in urban adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 156, 55–61.Google Scholar
  49. Younnis, J., & Smollar, J. (1985). Adolescent relations with mothers, fathers and friends. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  50. Zimmerman, M. A., & Arunkumar, R. (1994). Resiliency research: Implications for schools and policy. Social Policy Report, 8, 1–18.Google Scholar
  51. Zimmerman, M. A., Steinman, K. J., & Rowe, K. J. (1998). Violence among urban African American adolescents: The protective effects of parental support. In X. B. Arriaga & S. Oskamp (Eds.), Addressing community problems: Psychological research and interventions (pp. 78–103). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  52. Zirkel, S. (2002). Is there a place for me? Role models and academic identity among White students and students of color. Teachers College Record, 104, 357–376. doi: 10.1111/1467-9620.00166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noelle M. Hurd
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marc A. Zimmerman
    • 2
  • Yange Xue
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.PrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations