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Child Development Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 916020, 6 pages
Research Article

Psychosocial Development and First Substance Use in Third and Fourth Grade Students: A Short-Term Longitudinal Study

Family, Consumer, and Human Development, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-2905, USA

Received 25 August 2010; Revised 27 January 2011; Accepted 24 February 2011

Academic Editor: Jeffrey W. Fagen

Copyright © 2011 Randall M. Jones. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Third and fourth grade students ( 𝑛 = 5 0 9 ) completed measures of psychosocial development, substance use, and intentions to use in January, and again in May, 1998. A revised Erikson Psychosocial Inventory Scale (EPSI) was employed to assess psychosocial development while estimates of substance use and intentions were obtained from anonymous self-reports. The sample was split on the basis of change in substance use and intentions from January to May. Using this grouping scheme as an independent variable, scores on the EPSI subscales (trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, and identity) were compared over time. Interestingly, no differences in psychosocial development were evident for the initial substance use comparisons, but differences were evident five months later. Respondents who initiated substance use and/or increased intentions during the five-month interval exhibited small gains (averaging less than 2.0%) on measures of trust, autonomy, and initiative and modest declines in industry and identity (−1.2%). Respondents who neither initiated substance use nor increased intentions during the five-month interval experienced significant gains (averaging 6.0%) on all five of the EPSI subscales. These findings suggest that early substance use may impede psychosocial development, thus justifying prevention efforts in the earlier grades as well as efforts to delay onset.