Adolescents’ Social Norms across Family, Peer, and School Settings: Linking Social Norm Profiles to Adolescent Risky Health Behaviors

  • Yijie WangEmail author
  • Mingzhang Chen
  • Ji Hyun Lee
Empirical Research


Social norms around adolescent risky health behaviors have been often studied in separate developmental settings (e.g., family norms, peer norms), and little is known regarding the overall patterns of social norms across contexts and how they influence adolescent risky health behaviors. This study explored profiles of social norms around risky health behaviors across family, peer, and school settings, using data from 11,086 adolescents (50% female; 49% White, 22% Black, 18% Latinx, 8% Asian American, 3% other race/ethnicities) in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Five profiles of social norms around risky health behaviors emerged. Only a small portion of the sample experienced either congruent-restrictive (6%) or congruent-permissive (10%) social norms across settings. The majority experienced incongruent social norms, including the developmentally normative-low risk (39%), developmentally normative-high risk (40%), and resilient (5%) profiles. Adolescents with the congruent-restrictive profile and developmentally normative-low risk profiles exhibited the least risky health behaviors over time, followed by those with the resilient profile, and adolescents with the developmentally normative-high risk and the congruent-permissive profile exhibited the greatest risky health behaviors over time. Each profile was associated with unique developmental, socio-demographic, and psychosocial characteristics. The findings highlighted the complexity of social norms across contexts and the developmental versus risky natures of these social norm profiles.


Social norm profiles Family Peer School Risky health behaviors 



This study is supported by a grant awarded to Yijie Wang from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R03AA024288). We also thank Aprile D. Benner for providing helpful feedback on earlier versions of the manuscript.

Authors' Contributions

Y.W. conceived of the study, interpreted the results, and drafted the manuscript primarily. M.C. conducted data analyses, drafted method and results sections, and helped with results interpretation. J.H.L. helped conduct data analyses, draft part of the manuscript, and interpret the results. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data Sharing Declaration

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Population Center but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and so are not publicly available. More information about obtaining the restricted-use data are available at

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This study is determined as exempt by the Review Board (IRB) at Michigan State University (IRB #x17-076e).

Informed Consent

Add Health participants provided written informed consent for participation in all aspects of Add Health in accordance with the University of North Carolina School of Public Health Institutional Review Board guidelines that are based on the Code of Federal Regulations on the Protection of Human Subjects 45CFR46.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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