Putting Behavior in Context: a Multilevel Test of Social Structure-Social Learning

Lisa D. Holland, University of Florida

This paper provides a test of the Social Structure-Social Learning (SSSL) Model. Recent tests of the model find support for the contention that Social Learning variables mediate the effects of structural characteristics on delinquent behavior. These studies, however, have relied on aggregated self-reported demographics as measures of social structure. This paper contributes to the literature on SSSL by combining structural measures obtained from the 1970 Census with self-reported social learning and substance use measures from Akers' Boys Town Study. Multilevel modeling techniques are used to test the hypothesis that the social learning variables of differential association, definitions, and differential reinforcement mediate the effects of a variety of structural predictors of substance use. Findings and implications for future research are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006