This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Early Adolescents’ Attitudes about Engaging in Risky Relationship Behaviors: The Influence of Support, Control, and Self-esteem




Whittaker, Angela

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


The current study examined the influence of adolescents’ self-esteem, and support and control in their relationships with parents and best friends on attitudes about risky sexual behavior and dating violence. Participants were 717 early adolescents attending public high schools across a Southern state. Results indicated that best friend support and self-esteem were negatively associated with adolescents’ attitudes about risky sexual behavior and dating violence. Parental psychological control and best friend possessiveness predicted greater acceptance of dating aggression. Positive associations were found between parent and best friend support and self-esteem, and negative associations were found between parental psychological control and self-esteem. Counter to expectations, self-esteem did not mediate associations among support/control and attitudes. However, an indirect effect was found with parent support predicting self-esteem, which in turn predicted attitudes about risky sex. No gender differences were found in the strength of associations. Implications for future research are discussed.