Media as Social Influence: Racial Differences in the Effects of Peers and Media on Adolescent Alcohol Cognitions and Consumption


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Abstract

Racial differences in the effects of peer and media influence on adolescents' alcohol cognitions and consumption were examined in a large-scale panel study. With regard to peer influence, results from cross-lagged panel analyses indicated that the relation between perceived peer drinking and own drinking was significant for both Black and White adolescents, but it was stronger for the White adolescents. With regard to media influence, structural modeling analyses indicated that exposure to drinking in movies was associated with more alcohol consumption 8 months and 16 months later. These effects were mediated by increases in the favorability of the adolescents' drinker prototypes, their willingness to drink, and their tendency to affiliate with friends who were drinking. Multiple group analyses indicated that, once again, the effects (both direct and indirect) were much stronger for White adolescents than for Black adolescents. The results suggest media influence works in a similar manner to social influence and that Whites may be more susceptible to both types of influence.

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