Longitudinal Associations between Peer Victimization and Positive and Negative Risk Taking in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

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Virginia Tech


Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by an increase in risk taking. However, this is not always adverse, as risks can be classified as both positive and negative. Adolescence is also a period of time in which social relationships, particularly among peers, become increasingly salient, and as such, peer-related factors are often connected to risk-taking in adolescence. While peer relationships can provide adolescents with social support, they can also be harmful when they manifest in peer victimization. Thus, this study sought to understand the associations between positive and negative risk taking and relational and physical victimization in adolescence and young adulthood. Data were collected from 167 adolescents across five time points, approximately one year apart. Adolescents completed questionnaires that assessed their risk-taking perceptions and likelihood as well as peer victimization experiences. Results demonstrated that there were no significant cross-construct associations between positive and negative risk-taking perception and relational and physical peer victimization across adolescence. However, additional analyses examining positive and negative socially-related risk taking revealed a significant association between positive socially-related risk perception and relational victimization such that higher initial levels of positive socially-related risk perception predicted a slower decline in relational victimization across adolescence. Results also showed that overall, higher levels of risk-taking perception in adolescence predicted decreased levels of risk-taking likelihood in young adulthood, and that higher initial levels of physical and relational victimization in adolescence predicted higher levels of positive and negative risk-taking likelihood in young adulthood, respectively. Findings highlight the connection between peer victimization and positive and negative risk perception in adolescence, the potential risk-taking outcomes in young adulthood resulting from peer victimization experiences and risk-taking perception in adolescence, and most importantly, the differential roles of positive and negative risk taking in adolescence and young adulthood.



adolescence, young adulthood, positive and negative risk taking, peer victimization