A new study confirms that teenagers want to complete high school so that they can get away from home. Paradoxically, antisocial behavior, especially by males, is a strategy to increase popularity and gain friends.
“The goals that teenagers place most importance on are to do with leaving home, work and education, in other words they are related to finishing their studies and academic achievements,” said Laura López Romero, co-author of the study with Estrella Romero.
“Antisocial goals are to deceive, steal or bypass rules and laws, but not as a means to an end, rather as an end in themselves. In other words, taking part in this kind of behavior is a goal in itself for adolescents, because it allows them to achieve social recognition and to establish an identity and antisocial reputation, which gives them a certain level of popularity with others,” says López Romero.
The objective of the study, which has been published recently in the Spanish Journal of Psychology, was to study how teenagers’ goals were structured, and the relationship between these and antisocial behavior.
It was based on questionnaires handed out to a sample of 488 participants, aged between 12 and 18, at six public schools.
The students had to state the importance they placed on each goal, using a scale of six options. “Then we analyzed the young people’s involvement in antisocial behavior,” the expert points out.
The study is based on these data. The researchers also studied the role of gender in the relationship between goals and antisocial behavior.
Out of the teenagers interviewed, 233 were boys (47.8 percent ) and 254 were girls (52.2 percent).
“We observed very classic differences between the two groups. The girls placed more importance on goals related to education and interpersonal-family aspects, while the boys set targets that were more antisocial or related to sporting achievements,” explains López-Romero.
The only factor without any difference between the two was their goal of leaving home.
“Both groups were the same in terms of their aspirations about gaining autonomy and freedom,” says the expert.