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J Stud Alcohol Suppl. 1999 Mar;13:32-44.

The effect of peers' alcohol consumption on parental influence: a cognitive mediational model.

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Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011, USA.



The current study was designed to elucidate familial and social influences on adolescent alcohol consumption by testing three hypotheses derived from the prototype/willingness model of adolescent risk behavior: (1) parents' prototypes of adolescent drinkers affect adolescent consumption through their impact on adolescents' prototypes, (2) strong parent-child relationships are associated with acceptance of parental influence regarding drinking and thus with less adolescent drinking and (3) association with peers who drink dilutes parental influence over adolescents' alcohol consumption.


Two hundred sixty-six rural adolescents, ages 15 through 17 at Time 1, and their parents and siblings completed questionnaires about drinking behavior and drinking-related cognitions at 1-year intervals for 3 years.


Structural equation models provided evidence of transmission of prototypes of adolescent drinkers from parents to adolescents and evidence that these prototypes mediate adolescent alcohol consumption. They also provide evidence that although parents' prototypes and parent-adolescent relationships are important in shaping the adolescents' drinking, association with peers who drink significantly attenuates this influence.


These data suggest that parents can influence their children's drinking, but that this influence has more of an impact if the adolescent is not involved in a drinking-conducive peer environment. The current analyses also suggest that the process of becoming an adolescent drinker involves an active rejection of parents' influence rather than a passive movement away from parents' attitudes and beliefs-a process that is accelerated by association with peers who drink.

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