Decision Making, Locus of Control, and Self-Esteem as Related to Tobacco Smoking and Alcohol Drinking of Eighth Graders
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This study examined decision-making factors, self-esteem, locus of control, gender, and academic placement as related to the tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking of rural eighth graders. A survey was given in the spring of 1989 to 85 students who constituted 82.5% of the available eighth-grade population in one rural middle school. Data on decision-making factors were obtained as the responses to a hypothetical decision-making situation involving the offer of a ride to a party with a driver who had already been ''partying." Self-esteem was assessed using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Locus of control was measured using the Tobacco-Smoking Locus of Control scale and the Alcohol-Drinking Locus of Control scale which were developed by the researcher for this study. The data were analyzed using t tests, chi-square tests, and inspection of the means. Ten decision-making factors and two clusters of factors were generated from the responses to the hypothetical situation. The factors most frequently mentioned had to do with risks to personal safety. Nonsmokers and nondrinkers were more likely to mention risks, uncertainties about party activities, and interpersonal influences in their decision making. Users, especially frequent users, were more likely to mention attractions to the party and internal influences. Females were more likely to mention risks and students with low academic placement were more likely to mention party attractions. Decision-making factors were not associated with self-esteem or locus of control. Tobacco smoking and alcohol drinking were associated with low self-esteem and low academic placement but not with locus of control. There was a trend of higher substance-specific internal locus of control scores with increasing substance use, indicating that substance use may give young people a feeling of control over that aspect of their behavior. No association between friend locus of control and substance use was found. Indicating that adolescents do not perceive themselves to be influenced by their friends in their substance use.