Racing with friends: Resistance to peer influence, gist and specific risk beliefs

Academic Article


  • Purpose Studies assessing young drivers’ risk appraisals with their driving behavior have shown both positive and inverse associations, possibly due to differences in survey items that cue gist appraisals about risk (i.e., beliefs that are focused on meaning) or specific appraisals (i.e., beliefs that are focused on discrete instances). Prior research has indicated that gist-based reasoning is protective against engaging in risk behavior and that use of gist appraisals increases with development. Additionally, although much of adolescents’ risk-taking occurs in groups, almost no research examines how adolescents’ resistance to peer influence may relate to their specific and gist beliefs about socially-bound risk behavior, as well as their future engagement in such behavior. Methods One hundred and thirty-two adolescent drivers participated in a prospective self-report study on racing behavior. Surveys measured specific and gist risk appraisals, resistance to peer influence, and racing behavior at two time points three months apart. We hypothesized that stronger specific appraisals would be associated with greater likelihood of racing, and stronger gist appraisals would be protective. Further, we hypothesized that resistance to peer influence would be positively associated with gist appraisals and negatively associated with specific risk appraisals; and would also be inversely associate with racing. Results Specific risk appraisals and gist appraisals were predictive of racing behavior as hypothesized. Resistance to peer influence did not predict racing, but was associated with each type of risk appraisal as predicted at Time 1, although the association between specific risk and resistance to peer influence was non-significant at the second time point. Conclusions Gist beliefs and the ability to resist influence from friends might be indicative of an underlying strength of one's own beliefs about the self as a non-risk taking person who stands up for his or her beliefs, which is protective against engaging in risky behavior, such as racing with friends.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mirman JH; Curry AE
  • Start Page

  • 180
  • End Page

  • 184
  • Volume

  • 96