Adolescent Social Initiative


adolescent social initiative, social competence, interpersonal relationships


This article reports on an investigation of adolescent social initiative, a particular form of adolescent social competence. Specifically, the study explored the extent to which variations in this form of social competence can be understood as a function of the history of interpersonal relationships in the lives of adolescents. The sample (N = 750) consisted of two age cohorts (ages 11-13 and 14-17) that were assessed annually for 3 consecutive years (1995-1997) by way of a mailed self-report survey. Findings indicated that positive aspects of the parent-adolescent relationship (support, behavioral control) measured 2 years previous predicted adolescent social initiative directly or indirectly through the quality of interpersonal relationship with best friend, school officials, and community adults measured 1 year previous to the assessment of social initiative and/or through adolescent individual characteristics (self-esteem, antisocial behavior) measured concomitantly with social initiative. Although significant variance in the change in social initiative across the 3-year period was accounted for in both cohorts, a larger set of predictors was associated with social initiative among the younger cohort, suggesting that the social identity of younger adolescents was still dependent on their recent experiences in a variety of social relationships, whereas the parental relationship was the primary predictor for the older cohort.

Original Publication Citation

Barber, B. K., & Lance D. Erickson. (2001). Adolescent Social Initiative: Antecedents in the Ecology of Social Connections. Journal of Adolescent Research, 16(4):326-354.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Adolescent Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor