An examination of the relationship between adolescent decision-making directedness and AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, skills, and behaviors

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Rick S. Zimmerman - Committee Chair


Investigated in this study is how the decision-making processes of adolescent students regarding AIDS related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are influenced by their personal sense of directedness, i.e., peer, parent, or self, and by modes of educational interventions. Baseline data and three follow-up waves were collected from a sample of tenth grade students in eight public high schools in Dade County (N = 1,088). After baseline data were collected, the experimental group--all students in the first semester Life Management class (N = 709)--received either a teacher-led or peer-led three-day AIDS education intervention. The control group consisted of students in either drivers' education or personal fitness classes (N = 379). Revealed by the findings is that decision-making orientation/directedness is a good predictor of AIDS related attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Parent-directed students were found to most closely conform to adult established norms and to be the most amenable to AIDS risk reduction education, while peer-directed students were found to be the least affected by this style of intervention. This finding did not appear to be related to any particular mode of education. Illustrated by the findings is that self-directed students tend to hold conservative attitudes and behaviors related to AIDS risk, while, on the other hand they are inclined to over-report risk-taking behaviors. Further, self-directed students converse significantly more with their parents regarding AIDS, drugs, STDs, and birth control than either peer or parent-directed students. The findings indicate that intervention outcome for peer-directed students is sensitive to factors such as the nature of classroom peer-leaders, degree of prior exposure to AIDS information, and the degree to which AIDS risk related matters are discussed in the home. These factors may account for the fact that outcome performance for peer-directed students did not appear to be related to the mode of education they received.


Psychology, Social; Health Sciences, Public Health; Education, Health

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