Development and Psychopathology

Regular Articles

A cascade model connecting life stress to risk behavior among rural African American emerging adults

Gene H. Brodya1 c1, Yi-Fu Chena1 and Steven M. Kogana1

a1 University of Georgia


A three-wave cascade model linking life stress to increases in risk behavior was tested with 347 African American emerging adults living in the rural South. Data analyses using structural equation modeling and latent growth curve modeling demonstrated that life stress was linked to increases in risk behavior as African Americans transitioned out of secondary school. The cascade model indicated that life stress fostered increases in negative emotions. Negative emotions, in turn, were linked to increases in affiliations with deviant peers and romantic partners; this forecast increases in risk behavior. The findings supported a stress proliferation framework, in which primary stressors affect increases in secondary stressors that carry forward to influence changes in risk behaviors that can potentially compromise mental health.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Gene H. Brody, Center for Family Research, University of Georgia, 1095 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30602-4527; E-mail:


This research was supported by Grants 5R01DA019230-04 and 1P30DA027827-01 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.