An examination of factors influencing early adolescent development: An analysis using latent variable structural equation modeling

Date of Completion

January 1989


Education, Educational Psychology




The focus of this research was the formulation of an empirically testable theory of causal influences with respect to substance use and minor delinquency in adolescence. Using a social developmental framework, combining social control and social learning theories, a structural equation model with multiple indicators was specified. The model characterized the causal connections among the latent traits socioeconomic status (SES), family integrity, adolescent bonding (to family, school and peers) and adolescent development (substance choices, substance use and minor delinquent behaviors). LISREL VI, a structural equation modeling software application was used to estimate and test the parameters of the proposed model.^ Data for the final phase of the research were collected from 495 urban public middle school students using an instrument called the Student Life Questionnaire.^ Fourteen observed indicators were measured to estimate the causal parameters linking the four latent variables. After preliminary measurement model respecification, the model of adolescent development was not disconfirmed. Findings showed significant hierarchical direct causal effects of SES on bonding, family integrity on bonding as well as bonding on adolescent development. No direct effects were found between SES and development or from family integrity to development.^ Differential effects by gender were also investigated. Using the LISREL multiple groups procedure, the model was simultaneously tested for males and females in a hierarchically ordered series of analyses that identified several sources of differences between genders with respect to the model of adolescent development.^ These results lend validity to the theoretical perspective linking bonding directly with adolescent substance use and delinquency behavior. Additionally, empirical justification for the importance of adolescent substance use prevention programs having goals relating to family, school and/or peer bonding is demonstrated. ^