Psychological characteristics of adolescent steroid use

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Kent Burnett - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to examine the psychological characteristics of adolescents who identified themselves as anabolic steroid users. Transient mood states as well as pervasive psychological traits were measured. Transient mood states were measured by the Profile of Mood States (POMS); the psychological traits were measured by the Millon Adolescent Personality Inventory (MAPI). In addition, a structured interview, as well as a physical symptom checklist and steroid knowledge questionnaire was administered.The subjects consisted of 72 adolescent males, of whom 24 were self identified anabolic steroid users; 24 were athletic, weight training non-steroid users; and 24 were nonathletic, nonweight trainers. The statistical analyses were conducted at the.10 significance level.Results indicated that users displayed higher levels of forcefulness, and lower levels of impulse control, cooperativeness with authority, and societal conformity than nonathletic nonweight trainers. In addition, users currently on a cycle (N = 5) displayed transient mood states of depression, anger, fatigue, and general mood disturbance. The users also evidenced some symptoms of sleep disturbance. Users currently on a cycle were less introverted, had lower levels of self-esteem, and less consistent attendance at school than users currently either between or off a cycle. Both the user and the athletic nonuser group shared lower levels of cooperativeness, impulse control, societal conformity and higher levels of forcefulness, in comparison to the nonathletic nonweight trainers. The user group displayed significantly higher levels of knowledge about anabolic steroids than either of the other groups. In addition, the user group reported physical symptoms commonly associated with anabolic steroid use.The steroid knowledge questions and physical symptom checklist appeared to effectively delineate between athletic nonusers and users, thus augmenting the veracity of the study. The key demarcation between the user and athletic nonuser groups was participation in bodybuilding, with the vast majority of the user group (N = 21) involved in bodybuilding, as compared to the athletic nonusers (N = 5).Anecdotal information provided by the user group indicated that the users were satisfied with the results of steroid use, and that the transient physical side effects of steroid use was not a significant impediment to continued use. The powerful reinforcing qualities of steroids, particularly among adolescents who bodybuild, indicate their use is likely to continue.


Psychology, General; Psychology, Personality

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