Purpose: The current study examined to what extent cultural context moderated developmental processes, namely the patterns of association between low self-control, family processes and three indicators of health-compromising behaviors (risky sexual behaviors, alcohol and drug use) in two Eastern European and two Western European adolescent samples. Methods: School-based questionnaire data were collected from n = 7291 middle and late adolescents in Hungary, Slovenia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Students rated measures of self-control, family processes (closeness, support, and monitoring), and health-compromising behaviors. The data were analyzed by a series of set hierarchical regression analyses as well as follow-up z-tests for comparisons of individual regression coefficients. Results: Findings provided evidence that low self-control was positively associated with all three measures of health-compromising behaviors in a largely invariant fashion across countries. Differences were found in developmental processes, where low self-control was more weakly associated with risky sexual behaviors in samples of both Eastern European countries as compared with Western European ones, thus providing some evidence of idiosyncratic cultural norms. Results also provided evidence of mostly direct effects by family processes on measures of health-compromising behaviors. With two exceptions, no differences were observed in these effects across the four samples. Conclusion: Low self-control explains variability in health-compromising behaviors, especially in alcohol and drug use. The observed differences in the link between low self-control and risky sexual behaviors may provide some evidence of distinct norms and values among Eastern European youth in comparison with Western European adolescents related to these behaviors.
- Family processes
- Low self-control