Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Cheryl L. Somers


The transitional period from adolescence to young adulthood is defined as the stage of life that begins at the conclusion of high school and ends with the acceptance of adult roles (i.e., career, marriage, parenthood). The focus of the present study was on college students' excessive use of alcohol and other drugs and participation in high-risk sexual activity and the association between those behaviors and personal and social factors such as sensation seeking, peer influence, perceived general resistance to peer influence, perceived self-efficacy to resist risky behavior, and emotion regulation. The participants were 427 emerging- adult, undergraduate students 18 to 25 years of age (who were) enrolled in a large, Midwestern, urban university. The self-report surveys were distributed in classes, completed at home, and returned one week later. The Cognitive Appraisal of Risky Events-Revised (CARE-R) Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS-V)), Resistance to Peer Influence Scale (RPI), Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and A researcher-developed instrument was used to measure self-regulatory efficacy to resist peer influence to engage in risk-taking behaviors associated with alcohol, drugs, and sex, and a short demographic survey. Statistically significant results were obtained on the stepwise multiple linear regression analyses for risky sex, drug, and alcohol behaviors. Perceived peer risky behaviors, self-efficacy, and sensation seeking were statistically significant predictors of the three risky behaviors. Self-efficacy was partially mediating the relation between sensation seeking and risky sex, drug, and alcohol behaviors and between perceived peer risk-taking behaviors and risky sex, drug, and alcohol behaviors. Based on the findings of the study, it appears that self-efficacy to resist risky behaviors was the most important variable in controlling emerging adults' involvement in risky behaviors. Sensation seeking also was important, as was perceptions of their peers' involvement in these behaviors. Additional research is needed to determine if these variables are consistent in a noncollege emerging adult population.