Pubertal development choice of friends and smoking initiation among adolescent males
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Pubertal Development, Choice of Friends, and Smoking Initiation among Adolescent Males. Laurie A. Drapela WSU PS/CJ Research Symposium Series Friday, November 5th. Smoking among youth. Problematic for several reasons: Tends to be one of the first substances youth experiment with…

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Pubertal Development, Choice of Friends, and Smoking Initiation among Adolescent Males

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Pubertal Development, Choice of Friends, and Smoking Initiation among Adolescent Males

Laurie A. Drapela

WSU PS/CJ Research Symposium Series

Friday, November 5th


Smoking among youth

  • Problematic for several reasons:

    • Tends to be one of the first substances youth experiment with…

    • Associated with negative health outcomes (adult smoking, use of other drugs);

    • behavioral outcomes (delinquency, precocious sexual behavior)

  • Researchers have primarily considered the effects of parents and peers on youth smoking

  • Psychologists: sexual maturity


Considering the interrelation of peers and pubertal development on youth deviance

Moffitt’s Developmental Taxonomy:

  • Adolescence-limited v. life course persistent offenders (see figure)

  • Maturity gap and mimicry

  • Frustration and desire for autonomy provide motivation for deviance

  • Smoking as an expression of autonomy


  • If Moffitt is correct, then we should see:

  • a positive effect of pubertal development (PD) on deviant peers as well as youth smoking/initiation

  • Possible conditional effect of deviant peers on youth smoking/initiation among kids who experience early PD


Data, Measures, & Method

  • Data: Waves I and II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health)

    • males aged 12-16 (N=3958)

    • W I prev. 2105/3958; W II prev. 322/1853

  • Measures:

    • Criterion: smoking prevalence (WI); smoking initiation (WII)

    • # of 3 best friends who smoke (Wvs. I & II)


  • Predictor:

  • PD index (5 questions): amount of hair under the arms, thickness of facial hair, deepening of the voice, self-reported relative PD (R: 4-19)

  • W I alpha = .65; W II alpha = .66

  • Parent smoking

  • Peer smoking (see prior page)

  • demographics (age, race)

  • Method:

    • logit (smoking prevalence; initiation)

    • ordered logit (# of friends who smoke)


  • Results

    • Average male in the sample is white, 14 years old, has a 50% chance of having smoked at least once and a 30% chance of having a parent who smokes (Table 1).

    • PD has a direct positive effect on the odds of W I youth smoking (T2) and an indirect effect through the number of peers who smoke @ W I (T3).

    • Appears to be a lagged effect of W I peer selection on W II peer selection (T4, mod. 3)

    • AND it appears that those boys with high levels of PD at younger ages are more likely to see out peers who smoke (T4, mod. 3)


    • But among those who took up smoking between these first two waves…

      • the influence of peer smoking is contemporaneous, not lagged (mods. 1-2)

      • the effect of PD is also contemporaneous, not lagged (mods. 3-4)

      • there is no conditional effect of pubertal development and age on smoking initiation

      • rather seems to be indirect, through # of peers who smoke at W II (T 4)


    Conclusions and Caveats

    • Findings are consistent with Moffitt’s theory

      • effects of PD on youth smoking

      • effects of PD on deviant peers

      • these results suggest that the timing of pubertal development may be a very critical factor in the selection of deviant peers (early PD)

    • Caveats

      • not measuring many of the intervening mechanisms of the theory

      • selection versus stability of deviant friends?

      • collinearity issues


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