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Health Psychol. 2002 Sep;21(5):477-84.

Beyond invulnerability: the importance of benefits in adolescents' decision to drink alcohol.

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Department of Medical Education, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60612, USA.


Some investigators propose that adolescents engage in risky behaviors mainly because they perceive themselves to be invulnerable to risk. However, studies have typically not included perceived benefits. In the current study, 5th, 7th, and 9th graders were surveyed about their perceptions of and experience with alcohol and tobacco. Results indicated that perceptions of the benefits were significantly related to drinking and smoking 6 months later, over and above perceptions of the risks, age of the respondent, and experience level. Further, the importance of benefits was replicated across 3 separate analyses. Experience with alcohol alone, especially positive experience, was also related to perception and behavior. These findings are discussed in terms of how to improve messages and influence adolescents' decisions regarding risk-taking behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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