Self-schemas and possible selves as predictors and outcomes of risky behaviors in adolescents

Nurs Res. 1998 Mar-Apr;47(2):96-106. doi: 10.1097/00006199-199803000-00008.


Background: Although there is extensive evidence that the self-concept changes in many important ways during the adolescent years and that these changes influence behavioral choices, the majority of studies completed to date have been based on a static model in which the self-concept is viewed solely as an antecedent of the risky behaviors.

Objectives: To investigate the pattern of relationships between three components of the self-concept--the popular, the conventional, and the deviant selves--and risky behaviors in a sample of middle adolescents during their transition from junior high to high school.

Methods: A sample of 160 adolescents completed questionnaires measuring the content of their self-schemas and possible selves and involvement in four risky behaviors (tobacco and alcohol use, sexual intercourse, poor school performance) during the winter of eighth and ninth grades.

Results: Popular self-schema score in the eighth grade positively predicted ninth grade risky behaviors. Risky behavior involvement in the eighth grade predicted ninth-grade deviant self-schema and possible self-scores.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the self-concept may not only play a role in the early stages of engagement in the risky behaviors but may also be one means through which the behaviors become structuralized into potentially enduring aspects of the self.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Fantasy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Self Concept*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires