Role of Family and Peers in the Development of Prototypes Associated With Substance Use
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Prior research and theory suggest that adolescents often experiment with substances to acquire desired social images. However, little research has addressed the developmental precursors leading to favorable evaluation of substance users. This study tested a model of parental and peer influence on adolescent prototypes using a longitudinal data set of 463 rural adolescents. For both drinking and smoking, positive prototypes of substance users were best predicted by peer affiliations. Adolescents who affiliated with peers who practiced and encouraged substance use developed more positive prototypes of people who drink and smoke. These social images, in turn, predicted subsequent use of alcohol and cigarettes. In contrast to peers, parents had little direct influence on prototypes but did indirectly affect images through the adolescents' choice of peers. Unexpectedly, there was evidence of a negative modeling effect of parental substance use, such that parental smoking predicted more negative prototypes.