Authoritative parenting and sensation seeking as predictors of adolescent cigarette and marijuana use

Michael T. Stephenson, Donald W. Helme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Adolescents with high sensation-seeking tendencies often seek out thrill seeking experiences to satisfy their need for stimulation and sensation. In many cases, sensation-seeking adolescents fulfill their need for stimulation and sensation by using illicit substances. However, not all high sensation seekers use drugs, although the factors that prevent or buffer sensation seeking remain unexplored. This study fills this gap in extant research by examining the role of authoritative parenting as a protective factor that prevents or buffers cigarette and marijuana use by adolescents with high sensation-seeking tendencies. Data from 1,461 adolescents attending 6th through 8th grades in central Colorado were gathered during a semester-long classroom-based intervention to prevent the onset or further use of cigarettes. Results indicate that authoritative parenting moderated the effect of sensation seeking on adolescent marijuana attitudes, intentions, and peer influence but not behaviors. Further, authoritative parenting was a stronger influence than sensation seeking on cigarette-related outcomes with just the opposite effect observed for marijuana-related outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-270
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Drug Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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