Purpose To examine whether generation of 'socially appropriate' responses or divergent responses to continued peer pressure is a more effective deterrent of actual delinquency. Methods The sample of 129 urban adolescents included both boys and girls (51.9% male) and was predominantly black (48.%) and Hispanic (28.7%). They were studied longitudinally from seventh to eighth grade in New York City from 2000-2001. Resistance strategies to offers to smoke and to shoplift were assessed in two separate videotaped role-plays. Socially appropriate responses were defined as assertive and nonaggressive, including the use of a simple no; direct, declarative statements; and offering prosocial alternatives. Divergent responses were defined as multiple unique response types within the same situation regardless of appropriateness. Data were analyzed using hierarchical logistic regressions. Results High use of divergent responses was consistently associated favorably with changes in delinquency from seventh to eighth grade. High use of divergent responses was associated with lowered likelihood to vandalize, steal or shoplift, and commit multiple acts of any type of delinquency, even after controlling for seventh grade delinquency. Socially appropriate responses showed little association to any delinquent behavior. Conclusions Different social pressure situations and contexts may require different responses. As trying to teach effective responses for every single potential peer pressure situation would be impossible, promoting divergent thinking may be an attractive alternative.
- Divergent thinking
- Peer group
- Social interaction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health