Creative Education
2011. Vol.2, No.4, 398-401
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/ce.2011.24057
Impact of Psychosocial Factors on the Adolescents’ Behaviour
Beatrice Olawumi Ajidahun
Faculty of Education, Department of Guidance and Counselling, Adekunle Ajasin University,
Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria.
Received May 31st, 2011; revised July 3rd, 2011; accepted July 12th, 2011.
The study examined poverty, divorce and peer-pressure as correlates of behavioural problems among adoles-
cents in Adekunle Ajasin University. A total number of 100 students were randomly selected from various De-
partments in the Faculty of Education. The research instrument titled: Adolescent Psychological Questionnaire
(APQ) consisting of 18 items was administered to the adolescents in the Faculty. Four research hypotheses were
formulated. The data were analysed using frequency count and Chi-Square statistics. Results showed that all the
hypotheses tested were significant. This implies that poverty, divorce and peer-pressure were correlates of be-
havioural problems among adolescents in the Faculty of Education, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-
Akoko, Nigeria.
Keywords: Psychology, Adolescents, Behaviors
Adolescence period is very essential to the growth of any
person. The peculiarities of this period make it unique from
other aspects of development. It is a transitional period from
childhood to adulthood; it requires an atmosphere full of love
and understanding to function well. In Nigeria today, many
adolescents are getting into problems simply because of how
they were nurtured and what they were exposed to in the course
of growing up. Growing up in Nigeria sometimes depends on
the types of homes and parents one has. The economic status
of the homes whether low or high may likely contribute to the
positive or negative development of the adolescents. The homes
too, whether loving, caring and supportive may contribute
enormously to the proper development of the adolescent child.
The well being of every adolescent starts from the home. The
home being the first agent of socialization needs proper nurtur-
ing for it to fulfill its obligation to the members. Adolescents
benefit enormously when one or both parents are highly in-
volved in their upbringing. The act of nurturing the young ones
to adolescence stage is a great task for every parent to fulfill.
Upbringing of the adolescents starts from attending to their
physical needs based on the various physical developments they
are experiencing. Apart from upbringing, lack of warmth and
nurture from the parents may affect the development of self-
control in adolescents. An environment characterized by love,
understanding and good health is expected to promote the well
being of adolescents.
According to Conger and Chao (1996), adolescents in di-
vorced families are more likely than adolescents from intact
homes to have less intimate relationship with their parents.
Sometimes they also drop out of school because of lack of
concentration; they could become sexually active at an earlier
age because there may not be proper monitoring of their be-
haviour. Apart from this, they sometimes take to drugs and
associate with anti-social peers and this may lead to having
lower self-esteem.
According to Furstenberg et al. (2001), the family needs to
be intact for adolescents to experience the warmth and nurture
of a loving family. Emotional and behavioural problems may
stem from parental conflict before and after divorce, as well as
from the separation itself. In the view of Young et al. (1997), a
smooth functioning family can provide support and nurture to
an adolescent during times of stress and crises. Adolescents
from divorced, single-parent family tend to do worse in school
and get into trouble with the school authorities more than do
adolescents from two parents homes, perhaps because single
parents find it difficult to monitor their children on top of their
other responsibilities .
Adolescence period is sometimes referred to as a period of
stress and storm due to some biological changes they do ex-
perience in their bodies. If the stressors are increased by par-
ents’ marital breakdown then adolescents concerned may be
stressed the more. As noted by Pelton and Forehand (2001), the
family then becomes a source of stress as a result of divorce.
Both parents have roles to play in the lives of adolescents and
these roles cannot be overemphasized. Cooney and Mortimer
(1999) observed that divorce may be a kind of distraction that
disrupts the functions of parents to their children. The absence
of father in homes may lead to aggressive behaviour and poor
adjustment. During the teenage years, the father often assumes
the primary responsibility for disciplining the male adolescents
who sometimes exhibit more antisocial and delinquent behav-
Acc ord ing to Mcloyd (2000), the financial strength of a home
is worsened by divorce since both parents are no longer to-
gether. The financial stand of the home is left in the care of the
mother whose financial strength may not be able to support the
children. Such mothers are more distressed than their counter-
parts in intact homes. They often show lower support, nurture
and involvement with their children. Divorce generally has
effects on both sexes of adolescents but in different ways. Kelly
(2000) affirmed that there are lots of negative effects of divorce
on males than females.
Wolfinger (1998) found that adolescent males are prone to
drinking problems due to parental divorce. On the other hand,
girls from single parents are more likely to leave home after
school. Both girls and boys from divorced families tend to be
more depressed, according to Simons (1999) than their same
aged peers from intact families.
Akinbola (2004) observed that parents who are together may
suffer poverty. It is a state where an individual is not able to
cater adequately for his or her basic needs of food, clothing and
shelter. He is unable to meet social and economic obligations.
Lack of gainful employment, skills, assets and self-esteem has
limited chances advancing his or her welfare to the limit of his
capacities. Due to this high rate of poverty in the country, most
parents find it difficult to provide adequate food, clothing,
shelter or even good education for their children. Akinbola
(2004) further affirmed that adolescents who are deprived of
basic life necessities by poverty exhibit aggression and poor
social dispositions. They are predisposed to violence due to
lack of basic provisions of good nutrition, shelter and health
This aggression has manifested in the high rate of armed
robbery cases committed by adolescents. In addition to this
cultism, rape, sexual abuses and drug abuses are common
among adolescents from poor homes. Poverty can harm chil-
dren’s development through its impact on parents’ emotional
state and parenting practices and on the home environment they
create. Poor housing for parents make them worry and those
who have lost their job worried about their next meal and this
makes them to feel a lack of control over their lives and even-
tually they may likely become anxious, depressed or irritable.
And they are likely to project these negative emotions on their
Parents may become less affectionate with and less respon-
sive to their adolescent children. The children in turn tend to
become depressed themselves. According to Evans and English
(2002) adolescent’s children have trouble along with peers and
also lack self-confidence. As noted by the researcher, poverty,
family stress, and adolescents’ social and emotional problems
exist among rural, low-income Nigerians. Families under eco-
nomic stress are less likely to monitor their children’s activities
and lack of monitoring is associated with poorer school per-
formance and social adjustment. Poverty has the tendency of
sapping parents’ confidence in their ability to affect their ado-
lescent children’s development. Evans et al. (2002) observed
that lack of financial resources can also make it harder for
mothers and fathers to support each other in parenting. Many
poor parents neglect their adolescent’s children by not being
involved in their activities. They never knew the whereabouts
of their children. And, these attitudes may make the adolescents
to be socially incompetent and also expose them to biological
risk factor such as AIDS.
According to Bolland (2003) a nation is deprived of compe-
tency and productiveness as it ought to have if her adolescents
reach adulthood unhealthy, unskilled, or alienated. Poverty is
an economic hardship and it has effects on adolescents from
poor homes. This hardship may be in terms of poor health,
inadequate house, homelessness, exposure to diseases and un-
supportive neighbourhood. All these hardships experienced by
adolescents from poor homes have implications on their be-
haviours. Such adolescents are invariably involved in robbery,
kidnapping, prostitutions, and cultism and so on. The psycho-
logical ramification of living in poverty makes one to look
down on himself; they are vulnerable to any behavioural psy-
chological problems.
Peer pressure is another variable that affects the behaviour of
the adolescents. Peer pressure can be both negative and positive.
The researcher observed that the negative aspect of peer pres-
sure strives more than the positive aspect. Adolescents belong
to one peer group or the other as a source of identity and social
support. They conform to the ideas, beliefs and judgment of the
peer group and they spend much more time, with their peers
than parents. According to Conger and Chao (1996), adoles-
cents spend more time with peers because of low self-esteem,
and internal pressure which makes adolescents susceptible to
peer pressure. The authors believe that adolescents who see
the msel ves as unintelligent, unpopular and unattractive are more
vulnerable to peer pressure because their hunger for a sense of
acceptance and approval compel them to seek such things
through conformity. Roediger (1996) is of the opinion that the
influence of peer group on behavioural development of adoles-
cents can be examined by how they spend their free-time.
Adolescents spend much time with peers and receive less
adult supervision and control. They try to avoid close supervi-
sion by parents. They become more aware of the values and
behaviour of their peer group. And this lures them to some
behavioural problems which are anti-social in nature such as
robbery, cultism, prostitution and drug abuse. In order to feel
belonged and be part of their groups, adolescents sometimes
conform most of the time because of the benefit they derive in
joining their friends. Some of the benefits may be financial
benefits, hailing and acceptance.
Research Instrument
The data for the study were generated through “Adolescent
Behavioural Questionnaire” prepared by the researcher. The
questionnaire contains 18 items and is divided into section A
and B. Section B consists of 18 items which are intended to
find out the cause of behavioural problems among adolescents.
The response format is agree and disagree.
Data Analysis
Chi-Square was used to test the hypotheses. All the hypothe-
ses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
Population: The population for this study is all students in
the Faculty of Education, Adekunle Ajasin University , Akungba-
Akoko, Nigeria. One hundred (100) students were randomly
sampled from all t he departments and levels.
Hypothesis One: Poverty is not significantly related to be-
havioural problems of adolescents.
The result is significant because the Chi-square calculated is
greater than the table value of 3.841.
Hypothesis Two: Single parenting is not significantly related
to behavioural problems of adolescents.
The result is significant because chi-square calculated is gr-
eater than the table value. The hypothesis is, therefore, not ac-
Hypothesis Three: Broken home is not significantly related
to behavioural problems among adolescents.
The result is significant. Therefore, the hypothesis is not ac-
Hypothesis Four: Peer Pressure is not significantly related to
behavioural problems among adolescents.
The result is significant. Therefore, the hypothesis is not ac-
The result in Table 1 shows that there is significant relation-
ship between poverty and adolescents’ behavioural problems.
Factors like inadequate feeding, lack of shelter, hunger and
poor education encourage adolescents to misbehave. This find-
ing agrees with Akinbola (2004) that adolescents deprived of
basic necessities of life by poverty exhibit aggression and poor
social dispositions. The result in Table 2 indicates that there is
significant relationship between single parenting and adoles-
cents’ behavioural problems. Factors like the absence of a fa-
ther or mother at home, financial handicapping of the father or
mother and transfer of aggression influence children of single
parents to misbehave. This agrees with Furstenberg et al. (2001)
that family needs to be intact for adolescents to experience the
warmth and nurture of a loving family.
Table 3 result shows that there is a significant relationship
between broken home and adolescents’ behavioural problems.
Table 1.
Responses of adolescents on poverty as a factor for behavioural prob-
No Items Agree Disagree
1. Some adolescents are engaging
in robb ery becau se o f th eir poo r
background. 75 25
2. Nigerian adolescents who lack
basic needs like food are prone
to robbery. 64 36
3. Adolescents from large families
lack basic needs of life like shelter
and clothing 42 58
4. Poverty hinders parents from mon i-
toring their chil dren’s where abouts. 50 50
5. Parents who provide for the basic
needs of their chil dr en c om ma nd
respect. 80 20
6. Many adolescents are hindered
in their pursuit of education be-
c a u s e o f poverty. 83 17
Total 394 206
Responses Average Observed Responses df X2c
Agree 65.66 (50)* 9.81
Disagree 34.33 (50)* 1
X2t = 3.841 P < 0.05 (Signif icant result) ; *Expected ce ll frequenc y.
Table 2.
Responses of adolesc e n ts on s ta y i ng together of parents.
No Items Agree Disagree
1. Single parenting affects the lives of
adolescents ne gatively . 85 15
2. Boys/girls who are trained by single
parents especially mothers are prone to
anti-social behaviours. 75 25
Total 150 40
Responses Ave rage Observed Responses df X2c
Agree 75 (50)* 24.5
Disagree 20 (50)* 1
X2t = 3.841 P < 0.05 (Signif icant result) ; *Expected ce ll frequenc y.
This agrees with Pelton and Forehand (2001) that the family
becomes a source of stress as a result of divorce.
The result in Table 4 shows that there is a significant rela-
tionship between peer pressure and adolescents’ behavioural
problems. This agrees with Conger and Chao (1996) that ado-
lescents append more time with peers because of low self-es-
teem and internal pressure, which makes adolescents suscepti-
ble to peer pressure.
Table 3.
Responses of adole s c e n t s o n b r o k e n homes.
No Items Agree Disagree
1. Adolescents from broken homes
are liable to anti social behaviour. 81 19
2. Low-self concepts of adolescents
from broken and poor homes are
responsible for depression. 74 36
3. Most girls from broken homes are
lured into e arly marriage in life 87 13
4. Adolescents from broken homes
always feel bad about themselves. 76 24
Adolescents from both broken homes
and poor background experience
more stress than those from either
intact or poor homes.
86 14
Total 404 106
Responses Average Observed Responses df X2c
Agree 80.8 (50)* 35.56
Disagree 21.2 (50)* 1
X2t = 3.841 P < 0.05 (Signif icant result) ; *Expected ce ll frequenc y.
Table 4.
Responses of adole s c e n t s o n p e e r p r e ss u r e .
No Items Agree Disagree
1. Many adolescents belong to one
peer group or the other because of
low self esteem. 93 07
2. The thirst for acceptance among peers
prompts some adolescents to join
bad gangs. 92 08
3. To avoid parental supervision, many
adolescents spend more time with
peer groups. 96 04
4. The desire for intimate relationship
compels adolescents to socialize. 90 10
5. The desire for popularity makes ado-
lescents to socialize. 91 09
Total 262 29
ResponsesAverage Observed Responses df X2c
Agree 92.4 (50)* 75.03
Disagree 5.8 (50)* 1
X2t = 3.841 P < 0.05 (Signif icant result) ; *Expected ce ll frequenc y.
The findings of this study show that poverty, divorce, single
parenting and peer pressure are all responsible for various be-
havioural problems of adolescents. It is therefore important to
recommend the following:
Parents should give birth to children they can adequately
cater for.
The communication line between parents and adolescent
children should be kept open and effective.
Parents should encourage their children to believe in them-
selves and have high self-confidence.
Parents should show interest in the activities that their chil-
dren are interested in.
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