Tool Development to Measure the Adolescent's Perception of Invincibility


Name: Mary Crook


Organization: University of California at Los Angeles

Performance Site: Naval Medical Clinic, Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA; University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Year Published: 1998

Abstract Status: Final


The concept of invincibility has been identified as a phase of social-cognitive development of the adolescent and has been associated with a propensity to engage in high-risk behaviors. The purpose of this methodological research study was to develop a tool that demonstrates reliability and validity in measuring perception of invincibility in an adolescent population aged 14 to 20 years at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego. Semi-structured interviews with 10 teens were used to identify and define the phenomenon of invincibility and its meaning for this sample. Factors contributing to perceived invincibility and risk behavior involvement were identified and explored, including protective and contributing factors. Content analysis of transcribed interviews was completed to define attributes of invincibility. Common themes identified by participants were: adolescence, a time of transition; risk behaviors and contributing factors; differences between risky and dangerous; the meaning of invincibility; and strategies for working with teens.Based in the identified themes and subthemes, the Adolescent Invincibility Tool (AIT) was constructed. A judge panel of content experts and a teen focus group evaluated the AIT for content validity and clarity. The AIT was then administered to a group of 125 military-dependent adolescents. Psychometric testing examined measurement reliability, performance of items and hypothesized scales, and factorial composition. Internal Consistency of the AIT was demonstrated at a Cronbach's alpha of 0.88, and factor analysis demonstrated the following subscales: get away with it, like to take risks, experience it myself, be my own person, and it won't happen to me.Correlation statistics were analyzed to determine variable relationships. Family relocation frequency and parent ranking/rating were explored as significant variables for a military population. Age, gender, and ethnicity differences were described in relationship to the teen's level of perceived invincibility. A significant positive relationship was identified between aggression and delinquent behavior and invincibility as measured by the AIT; a negative correlation was demonstrated between worry and the AIT. Specific recommendations for engaging and working with teens, which can be used by clinicians in promoting health for this age group, are discussed.