Situational Factors in Drinking

A Developmental Perspective on Drinking Contexts
  • Thomas C. Harford


An important characteristic in adolescent development is the disengagement of the adolescent from parental objects. Coleman (1961) has shown the increasing influence of age peers and the decreasing role of parents as models from whom adolescents acquire many values and behaviors. In their longitudinal study of problem behavior and psychosocial development, Jessor and Jessor (1977) state that “there is a decline in parental controls and an increase in friends’ support and approval for models of problem behavior” (p. 162). Although the Jessors have reported an increase with age in problem behaviors such as problem drinking, sexual experience, general deviance, and drug use, they are careful to subsume the development of problem behavior under the broad context of psychosocial development. They note that many of the changes observed over the four-year period of the study were changes in a direction that may be defined as socially more mature. This even applies to the increase in problem drinking since this behavior is usually age graded (pp. 162–163). What is evident in the research of Jessor and Jessor (1977) is that the conception of alcohol use among youth is not an isolated activity but a basic part of their overall psychosocial development in contemporary society.


Drinking Behavior Situational Factor Problem Drinking Senior High School Drinking Pattern 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas C. Harford
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismRockvilleUSA

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