Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

The Effects of Advertising, Social Influences, and Self-Efficacy on Adolescent Tobacco Use and Alcohol Consumption

Academic journal article The Journal of Consumer Affairs

The Effects of Advertising, Social Influences, and Self-Efficacy on Adolescent Tobacco Use and Alcohol Consumption

Article excerpt

Exploring the simultaneous effects of key variables on the unhealthy consumption behavior of adolescents, two studies focused on the relative effects of advertising, parental and peer influence, and self-efficacy on adolescent tobacco use and alcohol consumption. The results suggest that (1) advertising effects are largely neutralized by parental and peer influence; (2) peer and parental influence strongly predict adolescent tobacco use and alcohol consumption; and (3) self-efficacy is a weak predictor of both adolescent risk behaviors.

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In response to the dire consequences of tobacco use and alcohol consumption in the adolescent population, recent research has sought to explore the causes or predictors of these unhealthy consumption behaviors (e.g., Andrews et al. 2004; Ellickson et al. 2005; Smith and Stutts 1999). In general, previous studies have revealed myriad environmental, social, and cognitive predictors related to the etiology of adolescent tobacco and alcohol use. For instance, one stream of research has found that advertising strongly influences adolescents' decisions to smoke cigarettes and/or drink alcohol (e.g., Grube and Wallack 1994; Pechmann and Knight 2002). A second body of literature, which focuses on either parental or peer substance use, found that each plays a major role in increasing the likelihood that children and adolescents will engage in similar substance use (e.g., Brown, Clasen, and Eicher 1986; Fawzy, Coombs, and Gerber 1983). A third group of studies investigated the effects of self-efficacy, a cognitive construct that pertains to the extent to which one believes she or he can meet personal goals. Generally, these studies found that self-efficacy is also a significant predictor of adolescent tobacco use and alcohol consumption (e.g., Dijkstra, Sweeney, and Gebhardt 2001).

While previous research has attempted to determine whether single predictors--specifically advertising, social influences (particularly, parental and peer influence), and self-efficacy--affect adolescent tobacco use and alcohol consumption, the extent to which each predictor affects consumption behavior when controlling for the possible effects of other predictors remains unknown. This is an important gap in the literature because, realistically, these predictors do not operate in isolation in an individual's life. Indeed, a prominent theory of human behavior, Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory, states that human behavior is a result of the reciprocal, bidirectional interrelationship of a person's environment and cognitive processes. This theory implies that research aimed at understanding any type of behavior should view possible predictors as interwoven, rather than independent, sources of influence. Thus, to determine if advertising, parental and peer influence, and self-efficacy constitute significant predictors of adolescent tobacco use and alcohol consumption, the current study seeks to determine the relative explanatory power of each factor by examining all factors simultaneously. Further, social cognitive theory does not place equal emphasis on all associations among the variables. By assessing the unique and additive effects of advertising, social influences, and self-efficacy, we provide evidence as to the relative strength of each variable as a predictor of adolescent tobacco and alcohol use. The discovery of the relative strength of each predictor of adolescent risk behavior will assist parents, consumer protection agencies, and public policy makers in devising strategies to prevent risk behaviors from occurring and to achieve a higher level of success in reversing the risk behaviors if they have begun.

In addition to examining simultaneously the relative effect of each social cognitive variable on adolescent risk behavior, this study extends prior research in a number of ways. First, instead of determining the relative importance of predictor variables by assessing the size of the rotated structural correlations, we attempt to validate past research findings by using a hierarchical regression usefulness analysis. …

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