Grant: $232,019 - National Institutes of Health - May. 21, 2009
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Award Description: This research project is developing and evaluating the use of Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to study the ways early adolescents may be influenced by their peers. EMA is a method of collecting self-report information in real-time and in natural settings using a hand-held digital device. Young adolescent participants in the study will carry an electronic device with them, and when alerted by the device they complete a short survey, about how they are feeling, who they are with, and what they are doing. It has the potential to provide precise information about the interplay among mood, perception of acceptance, and peer behavior within specific interaction contexts, such as location, current activities, and whether there is an adult present to monitor their activities. Existing evidence has shown that peers are a major influence on the development of problem behavior and substance use in early adolescence, particularly when youth are unsupervised and involved in unstructured activities. Applying EMA methodology to changing peer contexts and intrapersonal processes will help establish better understanding of the process of peer influence. The sequential nature of the EMA data can reveal cause and effect relationships among behavioral and cognitive factors, such as the extent to which mood state and self perception of acceptance affects the strength of deviant peer influence. EMA data are free from recall biases that are characteristic of typically used retrospective questionnaires. EMA data will be collected in real time with a hand held digital device by adolescents during non-school hours. A sample of 96 youth will be selected from 4 control schools participating in an already funded research project that is evaluating Positive Behavior Support (PBS) in middle schools. Half of the participating youth will be at-risk for developing substance use and other behavior problems and half will be a universal sample; there will be equal numbers of boys and girls. One week of EMA data will be collected three times throughout the school year when participating youth are in seventh grade and will be collected once during their eighth grade year. Youth self-report surveys of behavior and substance use, peer harassment and exclusion, and deviant peer affiliation will be available from the collaborating Positive Behavior Support project, as will school discipline referral data. Such data will have been collected the year prior to this study (when students were in sixth grade), and will also be collected when participating youth are in seventh and eighth grades. In addition, web-based surveys of peer networks, behavior, and peer harassment will be collected four times a year. This study will investigate the associations of the EMA measures of antisocial behavior, substance use, peer harassment and exclusion, and behavior of peer affiliates with the web-based reports. This study will also investigate the predictive validity of these EMA measures on youth self-reports and school records of behavioral and substance use outcomes at the end of eighth grade. Predictive models will investigate the ways in which positive and negative reinforcement processes among peers impact future peer affiliations and the strength of peer influence. Predictive models will also examine the role of peer harassment, peer exclusion, and status in the peer network in promoting deviant peer group affiliation, susceptibility to peer influence, and subsequent antisocial behavior and substance use. For girls, peer exclusion, mood state, and self perceptions are expected to be stronger predictors of changes in peer affiliation and strength of influence than for boys. The protective role of adult monitoring will also be examined. Data obtained with such a high frequency provide the best evidence for cause-effect sequences, which in turn suggest the most effective methods of substance use intervention and prevention.
Project Description: See project description.
Jobs Summary: Prime Recipient created 2 part-time Research Assistants; Retained at a level to maintain institute-wide health and pension benefits: 2 Research Scientists, 1 Research Associate, 1 Data Analyst. Vendor: Retained 2 Programming Coordinatores, 2 part-time Administrative Staff, 2 Programmers (Total jobs reported: 1)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on May. 21, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.