Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Jina Yoon

Second Advisor

Cheryl L. Somers


Research shows emerging adults are more likely than younger and older cohorts to engage in such risky behaviors. However, research on the outcomes of emerging adults and their relations with peers, parents, and siblings is less conclusive. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between emerging adults' perceptions of peers', siblings', and parents' risk-taking behaviors, and risk behavior after controlling for participants' sensation seeking tendencies. This study explored the moderating role of emerging adults' relationships with peers, siblings, and parents in the relation between these models' risk taking behaviors and emerging adults' risk taking behaviors, The mediating role of positive and negative expectancies for risky behaviors on the relationships between perceived peer involvement in risky behaviors and frequency of involvement in risky behaviors was also examined. Data were collected from a sample of 240 participants who were attending a suburban community college in the Midwestern section of the country. Results indicated that emerging adults' risky behaviors were associated with risky behaviors of those related to them. Close peer relations moderated relations between involvement in risky drug behaviors and risky alcohol use and self-reported involvement in risk taking behaviors. Close relations with siblings (closest) appear to be role models for emerging adults who tended to engage in risky behaviors if their close siblings were participating in these behaviors. Conversely, when emerging adults have close relations with their general siblings, they tended to model their siblings' risky drug behavior. Close parental relations did not moderate relations between self-reported involvement in risky sex, drug, and alcohol behaviors and parent involvement in these behaviors. Emerging adults who had close parent relations were less likely to be involved in risky drug and alcohol behaviors. These findings did not extend to sexual behaviors. Results also indicated partial and full mediations for positive outcome expectancies and the relation between perceived parent, peer, and sibling involvement in risky behaviors and emerging adults' frequency of involvement in risky behaviors. None of the mediation analyses that used negative outcome expectancies provided results that were statistically significant. Implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are included.