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Ways to Say No: Refusal Skill Strategies Among Urban Adolescents

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Objectives: To examine associations among adolescents' generated verbal strategies (ie, Simple No, Declarative Statements, Excuse, Alternatives) and underlying nonverbal assertiveness in 2 refusal situations: smoking and shoplifting. Methods: Sixth-grade urban minority students (N = 454) participated in videotaped role-play assessments of peer refusal skills. Results: Differences were found by situation with students demonstrating greater use of Simple No in the smoking refusal and Alternatives in the shoplifting refusal. Nonverbal assertiveness was similar across situations and was associated with Declarative Statements, but only in the smoking refusal. Conclusions: Prevention programs should tailor refusal skills practice to cover multiple situations.

Keywords: adolescents; assertiveness; observational methodology; problem behaviors; refusal skills

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY 2: Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 3: Department of Child Development & Education, Columbia University, New York, NY 4: Division of Prevention and Health Behavior, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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