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Parental Expertise, Trustworthiness, and Accessibility: Parent-Adolescent Communication and Adolescent Risk Behavior


School of Social Work, Columbia University, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027 (


A communication framework of persuasion and attitude change was utilized to analyze parent-adolescent communication about adolescent risk behavior. Three parent dimensions were deemed important: (a) perceived expertise, (b) perceived trustworthiness, and (c) perceived accessibility. Data were collected in surveys from 668 mother-adolescent dyads in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City (N= 668). Results showed weak correspondence between how expert, trustworthy, and accessible mothers thought they were on the one hand and how their sons and daughters characterized them on the other. All dimensions were related to how often adolescents said they talked with their mothers about a risk behavior, which, in turn, was predictive of lower levels of adolescent risk behavior. Implications for future research are discussed.