Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

A Longitudinal Study of Peer and Teacher Influences on Prosocial and Antisocial Behavior of Hong Kong Chinese Adolescents

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

A Longitudinal Study of Peer and Teacher Influences on Prosocial and Antisocial Behavior of Hong Kong Chinese Adolescents

Article excerpt

The influences of peers and teachers on the prosocial and antisocial behavior of 56 Hong Kong Chinese adolescents were investigated over a two-year period (Time 1 and Time 2). Results indicated that (i) a significant decrease in teacher influence occurred from Time 1 to Time 2 in subjects studying Grade 7 at Time 1; (ii) students who maintained a relatively high level of delinquent behavior from Time 1 to Time 2 demonstrated significantly higher peer influence than did those who maintained a relatively low level of delinquent behavior in the time interval; (iii) concurrent positive correlation was found between peer influence and delinquent behavior at Time 1 and Time 2; (iv) delinquent behavior at Time 1 was negatively correlated with teacher influence at Time 1; and (v) peer influence was negatively correlated with teacher influence at Time 1.

In this study, both intensive interview and self-report questionnaire were used to investigate peer and teacher influences on the prosocial and antisocial behavfor of Hong Kong Chinese adolescents over a period of two years.

Prosocial behavior in children and adolescents usually involves "sharing, cooperating, helping, feeling empathy, and caring for others" (Radke-Yarrow, Zahn-Waxler, & Chapman, 1983, p.528). In addition, altruistic behavior with some personal sacrifice and good-boy nice-girl or normative behavior can also be regarded as prosocial behavior - for example, giving gifts to parents, helping people with disabilities to cross the road, apologizing to others after committing a misdeed, and serving as a volunteer worker.

According to Hindelang, Hirschi, and Weis (1981, pp.54-55), the major antisocial and delinquent behavior of adolescents includes (a) general deviance, such as theft, alcohol use, cheating in examinations, and coming to school late; (b) drug use; (c) defying parents - for example, shouting at one's father or mother or going against parents' wishes; and (d) aggressiveness, such as group fist fighting. In the present study, the authors measured these antisocial and delinquent behaviors - with the exception of drug usage.

PEER INFLUENCES

The influence of peers on adolescent behavior has been found to be quite significant (Berndt, 1979; Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998; Hartup, 1983; Ma, Shek, Cheung, & Lam, 2000). Although parents may be influential in their children's beliefs and values about major issues (e.g., future educational goals), peers may be more influential in issues of style, such as clothing and hairstyles, and in deciding how to resolve day-to-day dilemmas. Many researchers have found that the peer group serves as a training ground for antisocial and delinquent acts: Ary, Duncan, Duncan, and Hops (1999) found that association with deviant peers was a strong proximal predictor of problem behaviors at a two-year follow up; Scholte (1992) identified the fact that adolescent delinquency may involve the delinquency of friends, risky behavior in leisure time, and severe conflicts with peers. Warr (1993) also noticed that adolescents who acquire delinquent friends thereby lock themselves out of future friendships with good friends through the stigma of delinquency. In addition, Coie and Dodge (1998) concluded in their review that research findings provide empirical support for "the hypothesis that deviant peer associations promote antisocial activity" (p.833). Steinberg and Silverberg (1986) pointed out that peer influence is especially significant during adolescence due to the fact that achieving greater emotional and behavioral autonomy from parents is high on the agenda. The psychological distancing from parents will be accompanied by an insistence on more stable and intimate relationships with peers. Hartup and Stevens (1999) argued that the developmental significance of peers and friends depends on their characteristics, for example, whether they are antisocial or socially withdrawn.

In a study of the prosocial and antisocial behavior of 2,862 Hong Kong Chinese adolescents using self-report questionnaires, Ma, Shek, Cheung and Lee (1996) found that antisocial adolescents tended to perceive their best friends as antisocial and exerting more negative influences on them, whereas prosocial adolescents tended to perceive their best friends as prosocial and exerting more positive influences on them. …

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