Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 38, Issue 9, pp 1240–1252 | Cite as

Parents and Peers as Social Influences to Deter Antisocial Behavior

  • Emily C. Cook
  • Cheryl Buehler
  • Robert Henson
Empirical Research


Growth curve analyses were used to investigate parents’ and peers’ influence on adolescents’ choice to abstain from antisocial behavior in a community-based sample of 416 early adolescents living in the Southeastern United States. Participants were primarily European American (91%) and 51% were girls. Both parents and peers were important influences on the choice to abstain from antisocial behavior. Over the four-year period adolescents relied increasingly on parents as influences and relied less on peers as influences to deter antisocial behavior. Significant gender differences emerged and suggested that female adolescents relied more on social influences than did male adolescents but that as time progressed male adolescents increased the rate at which they relied on peers. Higher family income was associated with choosing peers as a social influence at wave 1, but no other significant income associations were found. Understanding influences on adolescents’ abstinence choices is important for preventing antisocial behavior.


Parental influence Peer influence Adolescence Antisocial behavior Abstinence 



This research was supported by a grant from The National Institute of Mental Health, R01-MH59248. I thank the staff of the Family Life Project for their unending contributions to this work and the youth, parents, teachers, and school administrators who made this research possible.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational Research MethodologyUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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