Enlisting Peer Cooperation and Prosociality in the Service of Substance Use Prevention in Middle School

Investigators are exploring the links among peer rejection, prosocial, positive behavior, and substance use among middle school youth in 12 Oregon schools.
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One of the key social mechanisms contributing to the escalation of substance use in adolescence is peer rejection: socially isolated or rejected youth are more likely to affiliate with one another (i.e., deviant peer clustering) and to reinforce substance use and other problem behaviors.

Van Ryzin and his team are evaluating a multi-tiered approach to prevention (i.e., cooperative learning, service projects, and behavioral reinforcement) that should promote gains in prosocial, positive behavior while also interrupting the formation of deviant peer clusters. This approach should be simpler to implement as compared to existing prevention programs, less costly, and more flexible and sustainable over time, potentially creating a broad, organically driven impact on adolescent health.

PROJECT PERIOD

9/5/15 - 6/30/18

FUNDING AGENCY

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)