Risk taking and refusal assertiveness have been shown to be important determinants of adolescent alcohol use. However, it remains unclear whether youth predisposed to risk taking would be less likely to assertively refuse. This study examined the relationships among risk taking, refusal assertiveness, and alcohol use in a sample of inner-city minority students (N = 1,459), using a cross-lagged longitudinal structural equation model. Data collectors administered the questionnaire to students following a standardized protocol during a 40-min class period. Based on the tested model, risk taking was more stable over time than refusal assertiveness. Furthermore, high risk takers reported less frequent subsequent refusal assertiveness, and less frequent refusal assertiveness predicted greater drinking. A predisposition toward risk taking appears to be an enduring characteristic that is associated with low refusal assertiveness and increased alcohol use. These findings suggest that alcohol prevention programs that emphasize refusal skills training may be less effective for high risk takers. But programs that focus on enhancing competence or reducing normative expectations for peer alcohol use might be more effective for high risk-taking youth.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 10, 2004
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