Friends of teens' dates affect drinking

Oct. 14, 2011 at 11:35 PM
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The friends of teenage romantic partners significantly influence the frequency of drinking and how much is drunk, U.S. researchers found.

Derek Kreager, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University, and Dana Haynie, a professor of sociology and director of the Criminal Justice Research Center at Ohio State University, said teenage alcohol consumption may be influenced more by a date's friends than his or her own friends.

"Dating connects adolescents to new groups and that connects them to new behaviors, such as drinking," Kreager said in a statement. "The theory is that you are already like your friends, so you may already have similar drinking behaviors than them, but you can't pick your romantic partner's friends."

Friends of partners have no real incentive to change for you, but you have an incentive to change for them, to strengthen the romantic relationship, the researchers suggested.

The researchers analyzed data on the drinking behaviors of 449 couples taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a survey of adolescents enrolled in grade 7 through 12 in the 1994-1995 school year.

The findings, published in the American Sociological Review, found a partner's friends were more influential on the drinking habits of adolescents than their friends and their romantic partners.

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