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Looking for Effects of Group Characteristics on Outcomes in Group-Based Prevention Programs

Social psychology has pointed to a number of possible ways characteristics of groups may affect individual behavior and how individuals may change their behavior within a group. Recently the prevention literature has raised issues regarding the practice of placing "high risk" youth together in intervention groups for the purposes of preventing high risk outcomes (e.g. drug use) arguing that such settings lead to increased delinquency/risk. In general, the impact of group characteristics in such settings has received little attention and raises a number of modeling and statistical issues. This paper represents some preliminary work in this direction by exploring how group characteristics may influence individual change in desired skills and outcomes in an intervention setting. I present some preliminary contextual growth models to explore how individual growth trajectories may differ across contexts and, in general, raise some conceptual issues in attempting to address this task.