Date's friends influence teenagers alcohol consumption, claims recent study.
Criminologists at Penn State and Ohio State analysed data on the drinking behaviours of 449 couples taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a survey of adolescents enrolled in grade 7 through 12 in the 1994-1995 school year.
"In this analysis, a partner's friends were more influential on the drinking habits of adolescents than their friends and their romantic partners," Derek Kreager, associate professor of crime, law and justice at Penn State, said.
"Dating connects adolescents to new groups and that connects them to new behaviors, such as drinking," he said.
Prior drinking by a date's friend significantly increases the odds of future binge drinking and the drinking habits of the date increase the odds of binge drinking by only 32 percent, whereas friends' drinking habits increase it by approximately 30 percent.
According to Kreager, a date's friends may have more of an influence on drinking behaviours because teens can select dates and friends, but have little influence on who their dates choose as friends.
"The theory is that you are already like your friends, so you may already have similar drinking behaviours than them, but you can't pick your romantic partner's friends.
"So, our argument is that friends of partners have no real incentive to change for you, but you have an incentive to change for them so as to strengthen the romantic relationship," he added.
The study has been published in the current issue of American Sociological Review.