Date of Award

12-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

Suzanne Kurth

Committee Members

Greer Litton Fox, Hoan Bui, Ben Feldmeyer

Abstract

Central to many theories of deviance and delinquency (differential association, social learning, and social bond) are peer and familial influences on deviant behavior. A conceptual framework that incorporated both peer and familial influence to address the role of cross-sex peers on female deviance was built based on a review of the literature. Using substance use as an indicator of deviance, the effects of having three forms of male associates (male friends, romantic partners, and sexual partners) on female substance use were examined. Focus was on the effects of different types of male peer relationships, how those effects differed from the effects of female peer relationships, and how parental control might be greater for girls with only female peers.

The conceptual model incorporated three measures of parental control—parentally granted autonomy, parental presence at home, and time spent in shared activities with parents—that were used to test the effects of male associates on female substance use. Analyzing data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), one combined measure for male associates was regressed on female substance use while controlling for parental control measures to determine if the effects of male associates on female substance use were mediated by parental control.

Results indicated that while each type of male associate increased the likelihood of female substance use, effects were stronger for romantic and sexual partners than for male friends. Female friends also increased the likelihood of substance use. While the effects of male friends did not significantly differ from the effects of female friends, the effects of romantic and sexual partners did. The effects of male associates were significant even with the inclusion of parental control measures. Though both relationships with male associates and parents significantly affected female substance use, results did not provide support for the conceptual model. With results providing greater support for theories of peer influence than parental influence, future research should continue to examine peer relationship influences on deviance, how these influences vary by type of association, and how gender effects peer influence processes.

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