Marijuana use in adolescence: factors that affect use

Essay by misshellkittyUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, June 2003

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Researchers often use the correlational strategy to investigate the relationship between such variables as adolescence and marijuana use. Santrock defined a correlational study to describe the strength of the relation between two or more events or characteristics. Hence, the stronger the events are correlated the more prediction one can make from the other. Thus, if one is to state that adolescent marijuana users are more likely to have skipped school in the past month, to have had physical fights in the last year and to have low self-esteem, it does not necessarily mean that marijuana use caused the physical fights, skipped school or low self-esteem. It could mean that the adolescent's marijuana use is stimulated by other underlying emotional problems, which could be the same emotional problems that are causing the physical fights, low self-esteem and missed school days. Other facts such as poverty, parenting style, culture, social class and/ or family discord could also be causing this correlation.

Therefore, if a correlational study about adolescent marijuana use delivers a strong positive correlational coefficient, one can only interpret the events to be strongly associated and not necessarily causal. A study that could facilitate more control over mitigating factors is the experimental strategy. An experimental strategy "allows us to precisely determine behaviour's causes... by performing an experiment, which is a study done in a carefully regulated setting in which one or more of the factors believed to influence the behaviour being studied are manipulated and all others are held constant" (Santrock, 1998, p. ). For example, if adolescent marijuana use were to be studied and that behaviour changed when a factor is manipulated, an investigator would say that the manipulated factor caused the behaviour to change. In short, such an experiment would establish cause and effect between the events. Santrock (1998)...