ChapterPDF Available

Peer Similarity in Adolescent Social Networks: Types of Selection and Influence, and Factors Contributing to Openness to Peer Influence

Authors:

Abstract

Peers gain heightened significance during adolescence. Youth organize themselves into peer networks that reflect clusters of social relationships, and these social networks play a prominent role in youth's risk behaviors, internalizing symptoms, and adaptive behaviors. Remarkably, youth are often quite similar to their friends, which can be because of selection and influence processes. Whereas selection refers to the process where adolescents cluster with peers based on pre-existing similarities in behaviors, attitudes, or values, influence occurs when adolescents adjust their behaviors, attitudes, or values to those of their peers. Similarity-based selection may occur through preferential attraction, default selection, and repulsion, whereas influence toward similarity may occur through mutual encouragement, imitation, peer pressure, and conformity. Most evidence has been found for selection based on preferential attraction, and influence based on imitation and norms of popular peers. Individual, dyadic, and contextual factors contributing to variations between adolescents in openness to peer influence are discussed, as well as directions for further research.
1
Peer Similarity in Adolescent Social Networks: Types of Selection and Influence, and
Factors Contributing to Openness to Peer Influence
Lydia Laninga-Wijnen & René Veenstra
Please cite as: Laninga-Wijnen, L., & Veenstra, R. (2021). Peer similarity in adolescent
social networks: Types of selection and influence, and factors contributing to openness to
peer influence. In B. Halpern-Felsher (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Health.
Elsevier.
Contact information:
Department of Sociology
University of Groningen
Grote Kruisstraat 2/1
9712 TS Groningen
The Netherlands
a.m.laninga-wijnen@rug.nl; d.r.veenstra@rug.nl
Key words: Adaptive Behavior, Internalizing Problems, Imitation, Openness to Peer
Influence, Peer Pressure, Peer Norms, Peer Selection, Risk Behavior, Similarity, Social
Networks
2
Synopsis
This chapter describes why social networks of peers become increasingly important in
adolescence, and to which extent peer selection and influence processes take place in relation
to adolescents’ risk behaviors, internalizing problems, and adaptive behaviors. Different
types of selection (e.g., default selection, preferential attraction) and influence processes (e.g.,
peer pressure, imitation) are explained. The chapter provides an overview of individual,
dyadic, and contextual factors contributing to variations between adolescents in their
openness to peer influence and ends with directions for further research.
3
Abstract
Peers gain heightened significance during adolescence. Youth organize themselves into peer
networks that reflect clusters of social relationships, and these social networks play a
prominent role in youth’s risk behaviors, internalizing symptoms, and adaptive behaviors.
Remarkably, youth are often quite similar to their friends, which can be because of selection
and influence processes. Whereas selection refers to the process where adolescents cluster
with peers based on pre-existing similarities in behaviors, attitudes, or values, influence
occurs when adolescents adjust their behaviors, attitudes, or values to those of their peers.
Similarity-based selection may occur through preferential attraction, default selection, and
repulsion, whereas influence toward similarity may occur through mutual encouragement,
imitation, peer pressure, and conformity. Most evidence has been found for selection based
on preferential attraction, and influence based on imitation and norms of popular peers.
Individual, dyadic, and contextual factors contributing to variations between adolescents in
openness to peer influence are discussed, as well as directions for further research.
4
Introduction
In adolescence, social networks of peers take on unique significance. Adolescents
increasingly desire to connect and bond with peers (Baumeister & Leary, 1995) and
establishing high-quality friendships has strong implications for adolescents’ psychosocial
adjustment (Bagwell & Bukowski, 2018). At the same time, adolescents become more aware
of the hierarchical structure of their social networks and become strongly motivated to gain
popularity (Prinstein, 2017). Consequently, in adolescence, peer networks become an
important domain for support, belongingness, and social status (Bagwell & Bukowski, 2018)
as well as a primary developmental context that influences decisions, motivations, and
behaviors (Laursen & Veenstra, 2021).
Adolescence is often marked as a turbulent period of storm and stress, but also is a
period of great potential for adaptation (Blakemore & Mills, 2014; Hollenstein & Lougheed,
2013). Youth have the creativity and talent to be catalysts for positive societal and political
change (Wynes & Nicholas, 2017). They are sensitive to new developments and trends,
become increasingly capable of handling complex tasks and taking responsibilities, and are
willing to take risks for a good cause (Duell & Steinberg, 2019).
In this chapter, we first review four explanations on why peer relationships gain
importance in adolescence. Second, we provide an overview of social network studies that
disentangle selection (why peers who are similar in particular types of behavior cluster
together) and influence (why youth are being influenced by their peers) to better understand
similarity in social networks in risk behaviors, internalizing problems, and adaptive
behaviors. Third, based on experimental work, we distinguish between different types of
selection and influence processes. Fourth, we review which individual, dyadic, and
contextual factors may explain variations between adolescents in their openness to peer
influence. We end with recommendations for further research.
5
The Importance of Peers in Adolescence
There are at least four theoretical explanations underlying adolescents’ shifting
attention toward peers and increased openness to peer influence. First, evolutionary scholars
have proposed that humans evolved the motivation to obtain affection and status in social
networks because it amplified chances of survival and reproductive benefits (Anderson et al.,
2015; Kenrick et al., 2010). Having strong, affectionate bonds yields trust, security, and
protection, which promotes group survival. Conforming to peers is adaptive, as it enables to
develop stronger affiliations with others and to gain entry into diverse social groups (Laursen
& Veenstra, 2021).
Status also confers evolutionary benefits. At the individual level, status provides
access to valuable resources, influence, and control over joint decisions, and positive social
attention. It also enhances one’s attractiveness for reproduction (Rebellon et al., 2019). At the
group level, status hierarchies may serve adaptive functions, too: they promote social order
and contribute to a better organization of activities given that everybody is aware of their
status position in relation to others (Halevy et al., 2011). The reason why affection and status
become increasingly important in adolescence, is that in prehistoric times adolescence was
the point where youth entered the adult-world. Adolescents were taken to hunts, had
responsibilities in and outside their house, and provided offspring. Therefore, evolution may
have pre-programmed human species with fundamental motives for affection and status
among one’s peers, to enhance survival and reproduction. These evolutionary roots may
underlie the increasing significance of peers in adolescence.
Second, drastic neurological developments take place in the social brain when youth
enter adolescence. These developments enhance adolescents’ capacity of perspective taking,
meta-cognitive reasoning, and abstract thinking (Crone & Fuligni, 2020), which are important
for both the deepening and broadening of adolescent peer relationships. Friendships become
6
more intimate and trust increases, resulting in deeper relationships. At the same time,
adolescents become increasingly capable to reflect upon their position in the broader peer
context, referring to broader relationships, and start to worry about what their peers think
about them. Moreover, adolescents become more sensitive to affection and status in this
broader peer context. This reward sensitivity results in an increased tendency to seek out
novel experiences, while the functions to cognitively regulate these experiences have not
matured yet (Casey, 2015; Steinberg, 2008). Consequently, adolescents display an increased
openness to peer influence and are prone to modify their behaviors in the presence of their
peers, in order to gain social rewards (Chein et al., 2011; Güroğlu & Veenstra, 2021).
Third, many Western societies are individualistic societies that emphasize the
importance of finding your true self and encourage the development of a firm, unique identity
that sets one apart from others (Crocetti, 2017) concepts that had little meaning in foraging
societies (Hewlett & Hewlett, 2013). Adolescence is the period in which this search for an
identity becomes salient and friendships are important contexts for identity exploration as
they offer the safety of intimacy and opportunities for comparison. Moreover, the period of
adolescence is stretched in recent decades in Western industrialized societies (Greenberg,
1977). Though biologically mature, adolescents are not treated as such socially, and remain
subject to parental and legal restrictions, challenging their enlarged need for autonomy. For
instance, adolescents are not allowed to drive automobiles, buy alcohol or cigarettes, or vote,
but following education is obligatory. A way to bridge this gap between biological and social
maturity, is by displaying behaviors that are reserved for adults or that stand up against adult-
imposed rules, such as engaging in risk behaviors (Moffitt, 1993). In order to do this,
adolescents may direct their attention to peers who have a history of showing deviant
behaviors and these peers may become a role model (Dijkstra et al., 2015).
7
A final explanation underlying the increased importance and valence of peers in
adolescence is socio-structural. In most Western countries, adolescents transition from small,
confined elementary schools that are closely monitored by the same teacher, to larger
secondary schools with many unfamiliar peers and fewer personal contacts with adults. Not
only at school, but also in their leisure time, adolescents gradually receive more freedom to
go where they want and to spend time with whom they want time typically spent with
peers. Thus, the adult-determined environment of childhood is making way for peer
networks. Openness to peer influence is an adaptive response to these socio-structural
changes: in a context where adult oversight vastly declines, peers become vital. Failing to fit
in with the broader peer group takes a toll. Getting along with peers and conforming to what
is considered normative in particular peer groups may be the way to prevent becoming a
social misfit (Wright et al., 1986).
Similarity in Adolescent Social Networks
Adolescents organize themselves into social networks of peers, and adolescents who
are connected with each other are often more similar in behaviors, attitudes, or values than
adolescents who are unconnected (Hartup, 1996). In this section, we define the concept of
social networks and explain how social network analysis can disentangle peer selection and
influence processes. We discuss research that examines these peer processes in relation to
risk behavior, internalizing problems, and adaptive behaviors.
Social networks. Social networks transcend dyadic relationships and encompass
clusters of peers who are linked with each other. As such social networks consist of
individuals (dots) and friendship ties (lines between the dots). Social networks are dynamic:
friendships may be established over time, can be maintained, or dissolve. These relational
changes can result from the structure of the network, such as when friends of friends become
8
friends, and from individual characteristics, such as when adolescents with similar
characteristics befriend one another.
Most social network research focuses on friendship networks. However, youth can be
related to others in many different ways. Other examples of positive relationships are victim-
defender (Sainio et al., 2011) or helping relationships (Van Rijsewijk et al., 2016), and
examples of negative relationships are bully-victim relationships (Veenstra & Huitsing, 2021)
and antipathies (Berger & Dijkstra, 2013; Rambaran et al., 2015).
Social network analyses. Longitudinal social network analysis (also referred to as
stochastic actor-based modelling, applied in RSiena) allows researchers to disentangle the
dynamic interplay of selection and influence processes in a methodologically sound way,
while controlling for structural tendencies present in social networks, such as reciprocity or
befriending the friends of friends (Snijders et al., 2010; Veenstra et al., 2013).
Social network analyses also enable to separately model the formation and dissolution
of relationships, and to distinguish between different types of peer influence. Models can
estimate to which extent the average behaviors of peers affects one’s behavior and lead to
convergence, irrespective of the number of peers (average similarity), or the influence as
proportional to the total number of peers (total similarity), or whether individuals with friends
who have relatively higher levels of behaviors increase in these behaviors (average alter).
Social network analyses make it possible to distinguish between the influence of
friends on the onset versus the continuation of behaviors (De La Haye et al., 2013). These so-
called diffusion models are therefore suitable for testing peer contagion. Peer contagion has
become a popular term to depict all kinds of interpersonal influences in social networks, with
a somewhat negative connotation given that it mostly refers to powerful, risky, or dangerous
peer influence processes. It is adopted as a term based on the assumption that behaviors or
emotional states may spread through a network like a contagious disease, and as such,
9
individuals who are closer to the ones being affected are more likely to catch the disease.
Peer contagion however should not be equated with peer influence. It rather is a specific form
of influence involving four essential elements: (1) a one-way transmission of an attribute,
from persons who have it to persons who do not, (2) persons do not lose the attribute, (3) nor
receive anything from others in return, and (4) there is no transmission of the absence of the
attribute (Kindermann & Skinner, 2019). Examples of contagion are that social networks
affect whether youth reach the milestone of having sex, or start with drinking or smoking.
Social network analyses have burgeoned to examine peer processes in relation to
many behaviors, including risk behavior, internalizing problems, and to a lesser extent
adaptive behaviors.
Peer processes related to risk behaviors. Decades of research indicate that
adolescence is characterized by a marked increase in risk behaviors, including externalizing
behaviors and substance use. The extent to which this is due to peer selection and influence
depends on the risk behavior under study (Gallupe et al., 2018; Sijtsema & Lindenberg,
2018): adolescents are attracted to similarly delinquent peers as friends, and are influenced by
these peers in delinquency over time. Regarding aggressive behaviors, adolescents are not
attracted to similarly aggressive peers as friends. Adolescents are influenced by their peers in
instrumental aggression, but not in direct aggression, such as physical aggression or violence.
With respect to weapon carrying, adolescents do not select friends based on similarity in
weapon carrying, but are influenced by their friends with regard to this behavior.
Adolescents also select friends who are similar on alcohol and tobacco use
(Henneberger et al., 2021). Evidence for influence on tobacco use is less consistent. It is
possible that adolescents have less favorable views of tobacco use because of social stigma
and segregation, given isolated smoking areas and increased attention to the negative effects
10
of smoking. Additionally, smoking may be more addictive than alcohol, making smoking
continuation more likely, regardless of social influence processes. Social network research on
marijuana use is scarce. Some studies report peer selection and influence (De La Haye et al.,
2013; Schaefer, 2018) on marijuana use, whereas others did not find evidence for these
processes (Mathys et al., 2013).
Most studies examined peer influence on the frequency (continuation) of substance
use. A few examined how peers contribute to the onset of substance use with network
diffusion models. Adolescents were influenced by their friends in the onset of alcohol use,
defined as the transition from no experience with drinking alcohol to having a first full drink
(Light et al., 2013) or starting to smoke (De la Haye et al., 2019).
Peer processes related to internalizing problems. A recent systematic review (Neal
& Veenstra, 2021) indicates that evidence of peer selection based on similarity in
internalizing behavior is somewhat mixed: some studies found support for selection effects
related to depression and social anxiety, whereas others did not. Evidence for peer influence
related to internalizing behavior is more consistent, however, this was only true for studies
analyzing average similarity effects, which indicates that adolescents’ internalizing problems
converge with problems of their friends. Moreover, research suggest that friendships between
depressive and non-depressive friends are likely to break down relatively quickly (Kiuru et
al., 2012; Van Zalk et al., 2010). Adolescents with depressive symptoms often lack the social
skills necessary to provide intimacy and support, which enhances dissatisfaction about the
friendship and results in ending the relationship by non-depressive friends.
Peer processes related to adaptive behaviors. An increasing number of studies
examined peer processes related to more positive behaviors, such as prosocial or defending
behaviors, and academic achievement during the past few years. These behaviors can be
considered adaptive given their importance for later social and occupational success.
11
Regarding prosocial behaviors, evidence on influence processes is mixed. Some social
network studies found that adolescents select and influence each other on prosocial behaviors
(Laninga-Wijnen et al., 2020; Logis et al., 2013; Shin et al., 2019), whereas others did not
(Molano et al., 2013; Shin, 2017). With respect to defending, adolescents selected friends
who were similar in defending and influenced each other over time in this behavior (Huitsing
et al., 2014). There is also evidence that adolescents become friends with peers with a similar
level of academic performance and also influence each other in that respect (Duxbury &
Haynie, 2020; Gremmen et al., 2017; Rambaran et al., 2017).
Conclusion. The extent to which homophily in social networks can be explained by
selection and influence processes depends on the behavior under study. Adolescents select
each other based on similarity in delinquency, alcohol, and tobacco use. Peer selection was
less likely for internalizing symptoms, weapon carrying, and aggression. Adolescents
influence each other on internalizing problems and on some risk behaviors such as
delinquency, alcohol use, and indirect aggression. Peer influence was less likely for smoking
or direct aggression. Peer processes based on adaptive behaviors have not been structurally
reviewed because of scarcity of studies taking these into account.
Types of Selection and Influence in Social Networks
Even though social network studies offer the benefit of disentangling selection and
influence processes to understand behavioral similarity within social networks, this does not
necessarily inform about the type of influence or selection that may be taking place. Multiple
types of active and passive selection and influence can be distinguished, and in particular
experimental studies have provided insights in how selection or influence may occur.
Selection Types
Similarity-based selection may occur in active or passive ways. Active selection refers
to the process where adolescents actively choose to hang out with certain peers because they
12
prefer to do so, for instance, because they share similarities (preferential attraction), or avoid
other peers, because they are dissimilar (repulsion). Passive selection may occur when youth
end up with peers who are not necessarily their first friendship choice (default selection).
Preferential attraction. A first way in which similarity-based selection may take
place, is through an active selection process. Adolescents may be attracted to peers who are
similar to them, and based on these perceived resemblances, adolescents may actively decide
to hang out with these peers and befriend them. This may occur because similarities attract
(Byrne, 1971): youth who have characteristics in common get along more easily. Sharing
attributes and interests enhances mutual understanding, facilitates communication, and
provides a source of self-validation, making relationships more stable (Laursen, 2017).
Repulsion. The selection of friends can also be constrained by an aversion for
dissimilar peers (Smeaton et al., 1989). Following the repulsion hypothesis, similarity in
social networks is enhanced by the tendency to dislike dissimilar others, narrowing the pool
of friendship options to those who share more resemblances (Laursen, 2017). It is difficult to
disentangle dissimilarity repulsion from preferential attraction, because most research treats
dissimilarity and similarity as two poles on the same continuum. Experimental studies
suggests that both preference for similarity and repulsion from dissimilarity play a role in the
formation of friendships (Tan & Singh, 1995).
Dissimilarity also may breed negative thoughts and invite conflicts that jeopardize
friendship stability. Through de-selecting dissimilar others, similarity in social networks is
retained. An increasing number of social network studies is disentangling formation and
maintenance effects, and often it is shown that dissimilar friends are less likely to remain
friends than similar friends.
Default Selection. Similarity in social networks also may occur as a function of an
unwanted, more passive process: default selection. Some youth may hold a relatively
13
marginal position in the peer group, for instance because of interpersonal difficulties, which
limits their pool of possible peers with whom they can establish friendships (Deptula &
Cohen, 2004). As a consequence, they end up with others that are at the periphery of the peer
group not because they are attracted to these peers, but because these peers are the only
ones they can hang out with to receive at least some affection (Hektner et al., 2000). One
social network study provided evidence that adolescents characterized by direct aggression
have fewer opportunities to establish reciprocal friendships with nonaggressive, prosocial
peers, and rather end up with other directly aggressive peers (Sijtsema et al., 2010). An
experimental study also provided evidence for default selection. In this study, participants
were asked to exchange points with each other. They were randomly assigned to be low,
medium, or high in value, which determined how rewarding they were as exchange partners.
This value was shown to all participants, and during 120 rounds, participants could decide to
whom they wanted to give points. Every round, they received an overview of how many
points they had given away and how many points they had received. Youth who were
assigned to the low value condition, first tried to exchange points with those assigned to the
high value condition, but these attempts were not reciprocated. Over time, these lower value
youth stopped to initiate exchanges with high value youth, and rather started to exchange
points with other lower value youth, which may indicate default selection (Schaefer, 2012).
Influence Types
Peer influence can occur in active and passive ways. Active peer influence refers to
the process where peers actively stimulate certain behaviors in adolescents, which may
involve mutual encouragement and peer pressure. Passive peer influence represents a more
implicit influence process, involving imitation or normative influence. To date, social
network studies did not systematically test how peer influence processes occur, and therefore,
14
we provide an overview of some key experimental and observational studies to explain these
varying types of peer influence.
Mutual encouragement. Through conversations, adolescents mutually exchange ideas,
attitudes, or values with their peers. They may discuss and encourage antisocial behavior
through positive reinforcement and laughter directly in response to deviant ideas (Dishion et
al., 1996). This deviancy training relates to escalations in delinquency (Dishion et al., 2004)
and violence (Dishion et al., 1997) and explains the link between hanging out with deviant
peers and adolescents’ engagement in problem behavior (Patterson et al., 2000).
Conversations between deviant friends are typically characterized by mutually coercive
behaviors, insults, and continuing struggles for dominance (Dishion et al., 2004).
Regarding internalizing problems, a process called co-rumination may take place,
where youth excessively discuss problems and dwell on negative affect together (Rose, 2002;
Rose et al., 2007; Stone et al., 2011). Interpersonal models of developmental
psychopathology suggest that co-rumination is a major source of peer influence on
internalizing behaviors (Hankin et al., 2010), by promoting passive and maladaptive coping
processes and increasing emotional distress in adolescents (Schacter & Juvonen, 2019).
Peer pressure versus imitation. Whereas deviancy training and co-rumination are
examples of bidirectional conversations or mutual reinforcement, peer pressure and imitation
are examples of unidirectional influence. A widely held assumption is that youth engage in
certain behaviors because their peers pressure them to do so. Peer pressure is commonly
referred to as peers’ active attempts to bring about behavioral change in an individual
(Borsari & Carey, 2001). The term often refers to peer influence in the context of risk
behaviors, such as delinquency and substance use. For substance use, it refers to peers’
explicit offers of substances, which can be accompanied by coercion, teasing, or taunting if
the offer is resisted (Arnett, 2007). Various mass-media campaigns and school-based
15
programs aimed at preventing substance use or risk behaviors focus on countering peer
pressure by teaching youth resistance and refusal skills.
Imitation is an alternative way through which adolescents can be influenced. This is a
passive, implicit form of peer influence, implying that individuals observe and imitate peer
behaviors, without being urged to do so. This can be explained in two ways. First, social
learning theory (Bandura, 1977) posits that individuals observe and imitate others behaviors,
as they anticipate that this would lead to social rewards, including gains in status or affection.
Second, the perception-behavior link paradigm (Chartrand & Bargh, 1999) stresses that
individuals often mimic the behaviors of others spontaneously and unintentionally.
Observational studies and experimental designs have been used to investigate the
extent to which either active (peer pressure) or passive (imitation) peer influence takes place
in relation to risk behavior (including substance use) and adaptive behaviors. Imitation rather
than peer pressure affects youth’s smoking behavior (Harakeh & Vollebergh, 2012). Similar
findings emerged for alcohol consumption, with observational studies showing that emerging
adults imitated their drinking behavior (zip rate, speed of drinking) to peer models (Borsari &
Carey, 2001; Larsen et al., 2009). Concordantly, in a qualitative study on peer influence in
smoking behavior, peer pressure was considered a myth (Arnett, 2007): youth reported to feel
an internal pressure to conform to smoking behaviors. Moreover, young people indicated to
feel more pressure from their peers not to smoke than pressure to smoke (Kobus, 2003;
Urberg et al., 1998). As such, peer pressure can also be considered positive. A few studies
examined the relative impact of passive and active peer influence on risky tasks in an
experimental design. One study provided more evidence for imitation than for active peer
encouragement (Riedijk & Harakeh, 2018), whereas the other study indicated that a
combination of imitation and peer pressure was most predictive of discouraging risk behavior
(Harakeh & De Boer, 2019).
16
Norm conformity. Imitation and peer pressure are likely to occur within somewhat
smaller networks, such as cliques. In the broader peer context, such as the classroom or
within peer crowds, another type of influence may take place: norm conformity. Norms
provide important guidelines for how adolescents should behave to align with peer
expectations and to prevent being perceived as a social “misfit” (person-group dissimilarity
model; Wright et al., 1986). Norms are in the eye of the beholder: adolescents’ perceptions
on what is normative may matter more than what their peers actually display. An exemplary
study found that adolescents tend to misperceive the risk behaviors of their popular peers, and
these misperceptions rather than the actual behaviors of these peers informed adolescents’
behavior (Helms et al., 2014). Therefore, the relation between individuals’ norm perceptions
and behavior may be explained by self-projection, rather than by influence.
Following the social projection model, individuals consistently exhibit an egocentric
perceptual bias the tendency to project that most people act and believe as these individuals
act and believe themselves (Krueger & Chen, 2014). By projecting one’s own attitudes or
ideas onto the broader peer context, social projection leads to a belief that one’s personal
attitudes or behaviors are typical or shared by the environment, whereas this may not be the
case. Norm conformity can also be caused by pluralistic ignorance, where individuals
privately reject a norm, but incorrectly assume that most others accept it, and therefore go
along with it in public (Miller & McFarland, 1991).
Most experimental studies analyzing peer norms in adolescence focused on the relative
impact of popularity norms versus unpopularity norms. In a chatroom experiment adolescents
were asked to rate their willingness to drink alcohol based on various written scenarios and
were confronted with the norms of popular and unpopular peers about their willingness to
drink. After this, participants could again indicate their willingness to drink. The study
illustrated that adolescents conformed to both the pro- and anti-alcohol consumption norms of
17
popular peers, indicating that these peers cannot only be a risk but also protect (Teunissen et
al., 2012). In a similar way, adolescents increased their maladaptive responses to hypothetical
scenarios involving deviant and health-risk behaviors, after being exposed to the risky
responses of popular (rather than unpopular) e-confederates in simulated internet chatroom
(Cohen & Prinstein, 2006). Adolescents also showed increased adaptive behavior in response
to experimentally manipulated prosocial peer norms: adolescents had stronger intentions to
volunteer after being confronted with popular peers who endorsed such intentions (Choukas-
Bradley et al., 2015). Another experimental study compared the role of descriptive norms
with injunctive norms in adolescents’ healthy behaviors. Health-promoting injunctive norms
caused a decrease in fruit intake intentions, indicating that injunctive norms may be
vulnerable to reactance, but a health-promoting descriptive norm affected fruit intake in
adolescents positively (Stok et al., 2014).
Conclusion. Multiple types of active and passive selection and influence can be
distinguished, and in particular experimental studies provide insight in how these processes
may concretely occur. Similarity-based selection may occur as a function of preferential
attraction, default selection, or repulsion, but to date, it remains unclear to which extent these
processes take place for selection based on risk behavior, internalizing problems, and
adaptive behaviors. Different types of influence can be distinguished as well. Experiments
have indicated that adolescents are more likely to be influenced by their peers passively
(imitation, and conformity to popularity norms) than actively (peer pressure).
Variations in Openness to Peer Influence
Adolescents may differ from each other in their openness to peer influence, depending
on individual, dyadic, and contextual factors. In this section, we describe moderating factors
that social network studies have considered to explain variations between adolescents in their
openness to peer influence.
18
Individual factors. Differential susceptibility theory (Belsky & Bakermans-
Kranenburg, 2007; Belsky & Pluess, 2009; Schriber & Guyer, 2016) posits that some
individuals have a heightened susceptibility to their environment, which can result in more
adaptive outcomes in positive contexts and more maladaptive outcomes in negative contexts.
In contrast, the adjustment of low susceptible individuals depends less on changes in the
environment, regardless of how rich or poor the context may be.
Which adolescents are more susceptible or open to peer influence has not been
examined extensively in social network studies. One study examined the role of self-efficacy,
reflecting adolescents’ belief in their capacity to resist peer pressure (Rabaglietti et al., 2012).
Adolescents who were less confident about their ability to resist peer influence were more
strongly influenced by their peers in alcohol consumption than confident adolescents.
Another way of capturing peer susceptibility is by examining self-control. In particular,
adolescents with low self-control may be attracted to deviant peers as friends, as these peers
may satisfy their urge for excitement and fun (Rebellon et al., 2019), and may be a welcome
extraction from the school work difficulties these inattentive and restless youth often
experience (Duckworth et al., 2019). These youth may also be less likely to control their
impulses when peers influence them. Findings on the role of self-control in openness to
deviant peer influence are mixed (Hoeben et al., 2016), and the only social network study on
this topic found no moderating effect of self-control in peer influence processes on
externalizing behavior (Franken et al., 2016). Some scholars have suggested that low self-
worth may be a marker of susceptibility to influence, and one social network study found
adolescents with low self-esteem to be vulnerable to violent peer influence (Van Zalk & Van
Zalk, 2015). Another social network study examined the role of psychopathic traits as
moderator of peer influence. Adolescents high on callous unemotional traits were less likely
to be influenced by their peers in delinquency (Kerr et al., 2012).
19
Dyadic Factors. An important factor that may contribute to adolescents’ openness to
peer influence is the quality of the relationship with these peers. A way to define this quality
is by examining the extent to which a relationship is reciprocal. On the one hand, youth may
be more likely to conform to their peers with whom they are reciprocally connected, as they
may spend most time with these peers and because compatibility may be most important
within these relationships (Laursen, 2017). On the other hand, adolescents may be more
likely to adopt behaviors of peers they want to be friends with. Several social network studies
examined whether friendship reciprocity affected influence processes in relation to alcohol
use or depressive symptoms, and they found no role of friendship reciprocity in this process
(Burk et al., 2012; Kiuru et al., 2012; Mercken et al., 2012). Recently, a social network study
examined the role of friendship quality by introducing the concept of ordered networks, and
found evidence for homophily processes for emotional well-being in strong-tied rather than in
weak-tied networks (Elmer et al., 2017).
Parental factors. Even though peer relationships take on unique significance as
young people reach adolescence, they do not displace parents as sources of influence (Brown
& Bakken, 2011). Parental influence may interact with peer influence in explaining
adolescents’ behaviors. Parental monitoring diminished adolescents’ selection of delinquent
friends (Tilton-Weaver et al., 2013), but only when adolescents did not feel over-controlled.
Parents communicating disapproval had unintended effects on adolescents who were initially
not delinquent: they were more influenced by delinquent friends. Two other studies found no
effect of parenting behaviors in peer dynamics: parental support and monitoring did not affect
adolescents’ tendency to select smoking peers as friends (Mercken et al., 2013) and adult
monitoring did not moderate the impact the effect of exposure to drinking peers in predicting
adolescents’ onset of alcohol use. As such, some studies indicate a potential role of parents in
20
peer selection and influence processes, whereas others mainly indicate that parents are on the
sideline.
Group factors. Whereas experiments investigated the direct influence of perceived
norms on adolescents’ (willingness to show) behaviors, norms can also be seen as a
contextual factor enhancing the salience of a certain attribute for friendship selection and
influence processes. These peer norms can be descriptive norms, referring to the typical
behavior in a group, injunctive norms, referring to the approval of behavior in a group, and
popularity norms, referring to the extent to which certain behaviors are associated with
popularity in a group (Veenstra et al., 2018). Research that examined peer norms as context
for peer selection and influence processes found that the norms of popular peers (popularity
norms) rather than the norms of all peers (descriptive norms) enhanced friendship influence
on risk attitudes (Rambaran et al., 2013) and aggression (Laninga-Wijnen et al., 2017).
Popular peers may be more visible and central than other peers (enhancing conformity), more
powerful to provide vicarious reinforcement or sanction deviation (enhancing compliance),
and adolescents themselves may proactively try to fulfill their increasing desire for popularity
or avoid unpopularity. For instance, popular peers could act as positive role models by
enhancing the importance of prosocial behavior in friendship networks, however, this only
occurred in classrooms where these (or other) popular youth did not also set a norm for
aggression (Laninga-Wijnen et al., 2020).
Conclusion. Adolescents differ from each other in their openness to peer influence,
depending on individual, dyadic, parental, and group factors. The few longitudinal social
network studies on the impact of individual factors suggest that adolescents low self-
confidence or self-esteem are more susceptible to peer influence, whereas callous-
unemotional adolescents are less susceptible to peer influence. There is neither compelling
evidence that peer influence is stronger in reciprocal than in unilateral relationships nor that
21
parents have an impact on influence processes. The norms of popular peers clearly have an
impact on the strength and direction of peer influence.
Future Directions
Although substantial progress has been made in understanding similarity in adolescent
social networks, considerable knowledge gaps remain. In this section, we summarize some of
the most promising avenues for further research and initial steps already taken down each
path.
Combinations of behavior. Many of the mechanisms underpinning social influence
may work well for bundles of behaviors. Through a process of “interpreted abstraction”,
individuals may perceive and interpret bundles of behaviors of their peers, rather than simply
adopt the specific behaviors of their peers. Certain behaviors may cluster together and it may
be that such a pattern, rather than the separate behaviors, spread through social networks. For
example, adolescents who engage in risky sexual behavior are also more likely to engage in
substance use or direct aggression (Zweig et al., 2002). Moreover, co-occurring behaviors are
not always consistently healthy or unhealthy. Popular adolescents may strategically combine
aggressive and prosocial behaviors to get access to valued resources (Hawley, 2014), or
adolescents with the most favorable exercise levels and dietary behaviors may also have the
highest rate of binge drinking (Burdette et al., 2017). Considering these complex
combinations of behaviors may more accurately explain how and why adolescents engage in
particular behaviors. Influence would then occur if adolescents become more similar to their
friends over time in bundles of behavior (Adams et al., 2021).
Complementarity and optimal distinctiveness. Focusing solely on similarity may
not be realistic: friends are simply not clones. Compatibility of friends can be based on
differences and complementarity as well (Urberg et al., 1998). For instance, some research
suggests that youth who strive for status tend to befriend submissive rather than dominant
22
individuals, as this facilitates achieving their own goal for dominance and reduces conflict
(Dryer & Horowitz, 1997; Ojanen et al., 2013). Moreover, optimal distinctiveness has been
introduced as concept to describe that adolescents also aim to develop themselves in
somewhat different ways from their friends, to emphasize their own identity and uniqueness
(Brewer, 1991). Future studies are encouraged to examine the extent to which such processes
take place as well.
Direction of peer influence. To date, most longitudinal social network studies
examined average similarity effects (Neal & Veenstra, 2021; Sijtsema & Lindenberg, 2018),
indicating that adolescents adjust their behavior to the average behaviors of their friends
(convergence), and hence that adolescents’ behaviors or problems may either go upwards or
downwards - depending on the behaviors or problems of their friends. As such, for these
behaviors, it remains unknown whether influence for these behaviors is mainly for better
(e.g., with friends diminishing adolescents’ depressive symptoms) or worse (e.g., with friends
enhancing each adolescents’ risk behaviors). The direction of influence should be more often
considered in social network studies (Boman & Mowen, 2018; Haas & Schaefer, 2014).
Conclusion
This chapter shows that social networks of peers play a prominent role in youth’s risk
behavior, internalizing symptoms, and adaptive behaviors. Similarity in social networks in
these behaviors can be explained by both selection and influence processes. Various types of
selection (preferential attraction, default selection, repulsion) and influence (mutual
encouragement, imitation, peer pressure, conformity) may take place, and most evidence has
been found for selection based on preferential attraction, and influence based on imitation and
norms of popular peers. Individual, dyadic, and contextual factors may contribute to openness
to peer influence and deserve more attention in future research.
23
Translational Implications: Clinical Prevention, Intervenion, and/or Policy Takeaways
Understanding the origins of peer similarity in both adaptive and nonadaptive
behaviors may provide vital insights for practical implications. For instance, if selection
based on preferential attraction is a major driver of undesired peer similarity, interventions
may focus on enhancing the attractiveness of non-homophilous alternatives, whereas when
homophily is a product of repulsion, then interventions must focus on why particular
individuals are less preferred associates. There may be aversive behavior or stigma associated
with the behavior of certain individuals, which affects how others respond to them.
Peer influence is most likely to take place through imitation and norms of popular
peers. Imitation of non-adaptive behavior may be prevented by banning the visibility of these
behaviors. For instance, regarding smoking, it might help to remove smoking models from
smoking cessation campaigns, or to ban smoking in public areas. Popular peers may also be a
crucial target for interventions that aim at establishing more positive classroom environments.
An intervention study (Roots Intervention, Paluck et al., 2016) showed that aggressive peer
norms can change, resulting in declined aggression at school. In this intervention, “social
referents” are encouraged to take a public stance against verbal and physical aggression at
school. These “social referents” are students with many connections in the peer network, for
instance due to their high popularity.
Of nuance, it may not be realistic to rule out all behaviors that are considered non-
adaptive in society. In fact, some behaviors such as aggression are not necessarily negative or
risky. Channeled in the proper direction, aggression can be a positive, adaptive force,
enabling students to be self-assertive, dominant, and independent in a healthy way (Liu,
2004; Romi & Itskowitz, 1990). Youth should have the chance to also make their own
mistakes and to learn how to handle aggressive confrontations, in order to prepare them for
society. It also is important to critically evaluate on whether adults such as teachers do have a
24
voice in changing for instance antisocial peer norms, as such norms may signal that youth
attempt to bridge the maturity gap (Moffitt, 1993) and hence, will oppose to adult-imposed
interventions, rather than comply to it. Nevertheless, this should not discourage from
designing policies aiming at enhancing youths’ potential for success and adaptiveness.
Encouraging youth to use their talents for a good cause and to become catalysts for positive
societal and political change (Wynes & Nicholas, 2017) may be key in smoothly bridging the
maturity gap, so that youth can positively contribute to society and feel part of it.
References
Adams, J., Lawrence, E., Goode, J., Schaefer, D. R., & Mollborn, S. (2021). Peer network
processes in adolescents health lifestyles. Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
Anderson, C., Hildreth, J. A. D., & Howland, L. (2015). Is the desire for status a fundamental
human motive? A review of the empirical literature. Psychological Bulletin, 141, 574
601.
Arnett, J. J. (2007). The myth of peer influence in adolescent smoking initiation. Health
Education and Behavior, 34(4), 594607. https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198105285330
Bagwell, C. L., & Bukowski, W. M. (2018). Friendship in childhood and adolescence:
Features, effects, and processes. In William M. Bukowski, B. Laursen, & K. H. Rubin
(Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (2nd edition) (pp. 371
390). Guilford.
Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. General Learning.
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal
attachments as a fundamental human-motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497529.
https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497
Belsky, J., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2007). For better and for worse Differential
25
susceptibility to environmental influences. Current Directions in Psychological Science,
16(6), 300304.
Belsky, J., & Pluess, M. (2009). Beyond diathesis stress: Differential susceptibility to
environmental influences. Psychological Bulletin, 135(6), 885908.
https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017376
Berger, C., & Dijkstra, J. K. (2013). Competition, envy, or snobbism? How popularity and
friendships shape antipathy networks of adolescents. Journal of Research on
Adolescence, 23(3), 586595. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12048
Blakemore, S.-J., & Mills, K. L. (2014). Is adolescence a sensitive period for sociocultural
processing? Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 65, 187207.
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115202
Boman, J. H., & Mowen, T. J. (2018). Same feathers , different flocks: Breaking down the
meaning of behavioral homophily in the etiology of crime. Journal of Criminal
Justice, 54(October 2017), 3040. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2017.12.003
Borsari, B., & Carey, K. B. (2001). Peer influences on college drinking: A review of the
research. Journal of Substance Abuse, 13, 391424. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0899-
3289(01)00098-0
Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17(5), 475482.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167291175001
Brown, B. B., & Bakken, J. P. (2011). Parenting and peer relationships: Reinvigorating
research on family-peer linkages in adolescence. 21(1), 153165.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00720.x
Burdette, A. M., Needham, B. L., Taylor, M. G., & Hill, T. D. (2017). Health lifestyles in
adolescence and self-rated health into adulthood. Journal of Health and Social Behavior,
26
58, 520536. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146517735313
Burk, W. J., Van der Vorst, H., Kerr, M., & Stattin, H. (2012). Alcohol use and friendship
dynamics: Selection and socialization in early-, middle-, and late-adolescent peer
networks. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 73(1), 8998.
https://doi.org/10.15288/jsad.2012.73.89
Byrne, D. E. (1971). The attraction paradigm. Academic.
Casey, B. J. (2015). Beyond simple models of self-control to circuit-based accounts of
adolescent behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 66(1), 295319.
https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015156
Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1999). The chameleon effect: The perceptionbehavior link
and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 893910.
Chein, J. M., Albert, D., OBrien, L., Uckert, K., & Steinberg, L. (2011). Peers increase
adolescent risk taking by enhancing activity in the brains reward circuitry.
Developmental Science, 14(2), F1F10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-
7687.2010.01035.x
Choukas-Bradley, S., Giletta, M., Cohen, G. L., & Prinstein, M. J. (2015). Peer influence,
peer status, and prosocial behavior: An experimental investigation of peer socialization
of adolescents intentions to volunteer. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(12),
21972210. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0373-2
Cohen, G. L., & Prinstein, M. J. (2006). Peer contagion of aggression and health risk
behavior among adolescent males: An experimental investigation of effects on public
conduct and private attitudes. Child Development, 77, 967983.
Crocetti, E. (2017). Identity formation in adolescence: The dynamic of forming and
consolidating identity commitments. Child Development Perspectives, 11(2), 145150.
https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12226
27
Crone, E. A., & Fuligni, A. J. (2020). Self and others in adolescence. Annual Review of
Psychology, 71(1), 447469. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010419-050937
De La Haye, K., Green, H. D., Kennedy, D. P., Pollard, M. S., & Tucker, J. S. (2013).
Selection and influence mechanisms associated with marijuana initiation and use in
adolescent friendship networks. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23(3), 474486.
https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12018
De la Haye, K., Shin, H., Vega Yon, G. G., & Valente, T. W. (2019). Smoking Diffusion
through Networks of Diverse, Urban American Adolescents over the High School
Period. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 60(3), 362376.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146519870521
Deptula, D. P., & Cohen, R. (2004). Aggressive, rejected, and delinquent children and
adolescents: A comparison of their friendships. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 9, 75
104. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1359-1789(02)00117-9
Dijkstra, J. K., Kretschmer, T., Pattiselanno, K., Franken, A., Harakeh, Z., Vollebergh, W. A.
M., & Veenstra, R. (2015). Explaining adolescents delinquency and substance use: A
test of the maturity gap. Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency, 52, 747767.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0022427815582249
Dishion, T. J., Eddy, J. M., Haas, E., Li, F., & Spracklen, K. (1997). Friendships and violent
behavior during adolescence. Social Development, 6, 207223.
Dishion, T. J., Nelson, S. E., Winter, C. E., & Bullock, B. M. (2004). Adolescent friendship
as a dynamic system: Entropy and deviance in the etiology and course of male antisocial
behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32(6), 651663.
Dishion, T. J., Spracklen, K. M., Andrews, D. W., & Patterson, G. R. (1996). Deviancy
training in male adolescent friendships. Behavior Therapy, 27, 373390.
https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-7894(96)80023-2
28
Dryer, D. C., & Horowitz, L. M. (1997). When do opposites attract? Interpersonal
complementarity versus similarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(3),
592603. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.72.3.592
Duckworth, A. L., Taxer, J. L., Eskreis-Winkler, L., Galla, B. M., & Gross, J. J. (2019). Self-
control and academic achievement. Annual Review of Psychology, 70, 373399.
Duell, N., & Steinberg, L. (2019). Positive risk taking in adolescence. Child Development
Perspectives, 13(1), 4852. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12310.Positive
Duxbury, S. W., & Haynie, D. L. (2020). School suspension and social selection: Labeling,
network change, and adolescent, academic achievement. Social Science Research,
85(August 2019), 102365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2019.102365
Elmer, T., Boda, Z., & Stadtfeld, C. (2017). The co-evolution of emotional well-being with
weak and strong friendship ties. Network Science, 5(3), 278307.
https://doi.org/10.1017/nws.2017.20
Franken, A., Moffitt, T. E., Steglich, C. E. G., Dijkstra, J. K., Harakeh, Z., & Vollebergh, W.
A. M. (2016). The role of self-control and early adolescents friendships in the
development of externalizing behavior: The SNARE study. Journal of Youth and
Adolescence, 45(9), 18001811. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0287-z
Gallupe, O., McLevey, J., & Brown, S. (2018). Selection and influence: A meta-analysis of
the association between peer and personal offending. Journal of Quantitative
Criminology, 35(2), 123. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10940-018-9384-y
Greenberg, D. F. (1977). Delinquency and age structure of society. Contemporary Crises, 1,
189223.
Gremmen, M. C., Dijkstra, J. K., Steglich, C., & Veenstra, R. (2017). First selection, then
influence: Developmental differences in friendship dynamics regarding academic
achievement. Developmental Psychology, 53(7), 13561370.
29
https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000314
roğlu, B., & Veenstra, R. (2021). Neural underpinnings of peer experiences and
interactions: A review of social neuroscience. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly.
Haas, S. A., & Schaefer, D. R. (2014). With a Little Help from My Friends? Asymmetrical
Social Influence on Adolescent Smoking Initiation and Cessation. Journal of Health and
Social Behavior, 55(2), 126143. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146514532817
Halevy, N., Chou, E. Y., & Galinsky, A. D. (2011). A functional model of hierarchy: Why,
how, and when vertical differentiation enhances group performance. Organizational
Psychology Review, 1(1), 3252. https://doi.org/10.1177/2041386610380991
Hankin, B. L., Stone, L., & Ann, P. (2010). Corumination, interpersonal stress generation ,
and internalizing symptoms: Accumulating effects and transactional influences in a
multiwave study of adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 217235.
https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579409990368
Harakeh, Z., & De Boer, A. (2019). The effect of active and passive peer encouragement on
adolescent. Journal of Adolescence, 71(December 2018), 1017.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2018.12.004
Harakeh, Z., & Vollebergh, W. A. M. (2012). The impact of active and passive peer influence
on young adult smoking: An experimental study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence,
121(3), 220223. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.08.029
Hartup, W. W. (1996). The company they keep: Friendships and their developmental
significance. Child Development, 67(1), 113. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-
8624.1996.tb01714.x
Hawley, P. H. (2014). The duality of human nature: Coercion and prosociality in youths
hierarchy ascension and social success. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23,
433438. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721414548417
30
Hektner, J. M., August, G. J., & Realmuto, G. M. (2000). Patterns and Temporal Changes in
Peer Affiliation Among Aggressive and Nonaggressive Children Participating in a
Summer School Program. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29, 603614.
https://doi.org/10.1207/S15374424JCCP2904_12
Helms, S. W., Choukas-Bradley, S., Widman, L., Giletta, M., Cohen, G. L., & Prinstein, M.
J. (2014). Adolescents misperceive and are influenced by high-status peers health risk,
deviant, and adaptive behavior. Developmental Psychology, 50(12), 26972714.
https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038178
Henneberger, A. K., Mushonga, D. R., & Preston, A. M. (2021). Peer influence and
adolescent substance use: A systematic review of dynamic social network research.
Adolescent Research Review, 6, 5773. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40894-019-00130-0
Hewlett, B. L., & Hewlett, B. S. (2013). Hunter-gatherer adolescence. In B. L. Hewlett (Ed.),
Adolescent Identity: Evolutionary, Cultural and Developmental Perspectives (pp. 73
101). Routledge.
Hoeben, E., Meldrum, R. C., Walker, D. A., & Young, J. T. N. (2016). The role of peer
delinquency and unstructured socializing in explaining delinquency and substance use:
A state-of-the-art review. Journal of Criminal Justice, 47, 108122.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2016.08.001
Hollenstein, T., & Lougheed, J. P. (2013). Beyond storm and stress: Typicality, transactions,
timing, and temperament to account for adolescent change. American Psychologist, 68,
444454. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033586
Huitsing, G., Snijders, T. A. B., Van Duijn, M. A. J., & Veenstra, R. (2014). Victims, bullies,
and their defenders: A longitudinal study of the coevolution of positive and negative
networks. Development and Psychopathology, 26, 645659.
https://doi.org/10.107/S0954579414000297
31
Kenrick, D. T., Griskevicius, V., Neuberg, S. L., & Schaller, M. (2010). Renovating the
Pyramid of Needs: Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancient Foundations.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 292314.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691610369469
Kerr, M., Van Zalk, M. H. W., & Stattin, H. H. (2012). Psychopathic traits moderate peer
influence on adolescent delinquency. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,
53(8), 826835. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02492.x
Kindermann, T. A., & Skinner, E. A. (2019). Is psychology suffering from an epidemic of
contagion? Moving from metaphors to theoretically derived concepts and methods in
the study of social influences. Theory & Psychology, 29, 739756.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354319857154
Kiuru, N., Burk, W. J., Laursen, B., Nurmi, J. E., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2012). Is depression
contagious? A test of alternative peer socialization mechanisms of depressive symptoms
in adolescent peer networks. Journal of Adolescent Health, 50(3), 250255.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.06.013
Kobus, K. (2003). Peers and adolescent smoking. Addiction, 98(Suppl 1), 3755.
Krueger, J. I., & Chen, L. J. (2014). The first cut is the deepest: Effects of social projection
and dialectical bootstrapping on judgmental accuracy. Social Cognition, 32(4), 315336.
Laninga-Wijnen, L., Harakeh, Z., Steglich, C., Dijkstra, J. K., Veenstra, R., & Vollebergh,
W. (2017). The norms of popular peers moderate friendship dynamics of adolescent
aggression. Child Development, 88(4), 12651283. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12650
Laninga-Wijnen, L., Steglich, C., Harakeh, Z., Vollebergh, W., Veenstra, R., & Dijkstra, J.
K. (2020). The role of prosocial and aggressive popularity norm combinations in
prosocial and aggressive friendship processes. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49(3),
645663. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01088-x
32
Larsen, H., Engels, R. C. M. E., Granic, I., & Overbeek, G. (2009). An experimental study on
imitation of alcohol consumption in same-sex dyads. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 44(3), 250
255. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agp002
Laursen, B. (2017). Making and keeping friends: The importance of being similar. Child
Development Perspectives, 11(4), 282289. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdep.12246
Laursen, B., & Veenstra, R. (2021). Toward understanding the functions of peer influence: A
summary and synthesis of recent empirical research. Journal of Research on
Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12606
Light, J. M., Greenan, C. C., Rusby, J. C., Nies, K. M., & Snijders, T. A. B. (2013). Onset to
first alcohol use in early adolescence: A network diffusion model. Journal of Research
on Adolescence, 23(3), 487499. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12064
Liu, J. (2004). Concept analysis: Aggression. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 25(7), 693
714. https://doi.org/10.1080/01612840490486755
Logis, H. A., Rodkin, P. C., Gest, S. D., & Ahn, H. J. (2013). Popularity as an organizing
factor of preadolescent friendship networks: Beyond prosocial and aggressive behavior.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23(3), 413423. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12033
Mathys, C., Burk, W. J., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2013). Popularity as a moderator of peer
selection and socialization of adolescent alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco use. Journal of
Research on Adolescence, 23(3), 513523. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12031
Mercken, L., Sleddens, E. F. C., de Vries, H., & Steglich, C. E. G. (2013). Choosing
adolescent smokers as friends: The role of parenting and parental smoking. Journal of
Adolescence, 36(2), 383392. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2012.12.004
Mercken, L., Steglich, C., Sinclair, P., Holliday, J., & Moore, L. (2012). A longitudinal social
network analysis of peer influence, peer selection, and smoking behavior among
adolescents in British schools. Health Psychology, 31(4), 450459.
33
https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026876
Miller, D. T., & McFarland, C. (1991). When social comparison goes awry: The case of
pluralistic ignorance. In J. Suls & T. A. Wills (Eds.), Social comparison: Contemporary
theory and research (pp. 287313). Erlbaum.
Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A
developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674701.
https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.100.4.674
Molano, A., Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., & Aber, J. L. (2013). Selection and socialization of
aggressive and prosocial behavior: The moderating role of social-cognitive processes.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23(3), 424436. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12034
Neal, J. W., & Veenstra, R. (2021). Network selection and influence effects on childrens and
adolescents internalizing behaviors and peer victimization: A systematic review.
Developmental Review, 59, 100944. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2020.100944
Ojanen, T., Sijtsema, J. J., & Rambaran, J. A. (2013). Social goals and adolescent
friendships: Social selection, deselection, and influence. Journal of Research on
Adolescence, 23(3), 550562. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12043
Paluck, E. L., Shepherd, H., & Aronow, P. M. (2016). Changing climates of conflict: A social
network experiment in 56 schools. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of
the United States of America, 113(3), 566571.
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1514483113
Patterson, G. R., Dishion, T. J., & Yoerger, K. (2000). Adolescent growth in new forms of
problem behavior: Macro- and micro-peer dynamics. Prevention Science, 1(1), 313.
Prinstein, M. J. (2017). Popular: The power of likability in a status-obsessed world. Viking.
Rabaglietti, E., Burk, W. J., & Giletta, M. (2012). Regulatory Self-efficacy as a Moderator of
Peer Socialization Relating to Italian Adolescents Alcohol Intoxication. Social
34
Development, 21(3), 522536. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2011.00637.x
Rambaran, J. A., Dijkstra, J. K., Munniksma, A., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2015). The
development of adolescents friendships and antipathies: A longitudinal multivariate
network test of balance theory. Social Networks, 43, 162176.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2015.05.003
Rambaran, J. A., Dijkstra, J. K., & Stark, T. H. (2013). Status-based influence processes: The
role of norm salience in contagion of adolescent risk attitudes. Journal of Research on
Adolescence, 23(3), 574585. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12032
Rambaran, J. A., Schwartz, D., Badaly, D., Hopmeyer, A., Steglich, C., & Veenstra, R.
(2017). Academic functioning and peer influences: A short-term longitudinal study of
network-behavior dynamics in middle adolescence. Child Development, 88(2), 523543.
https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12611
Rebellon, C. J., Trinkner, R., Van Gundy, K. T., & Cohn, E. S. (2019). No guts, no glory:
Risk-taking on adolescent popularity. Deviant Behavior, 40(12), 14641479.
https://doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2018.1519128
Riedijk, L., & Harakeh, Z. (2018). Imitating the risky decision-making of peers: An
experimental study among emerging adults. Emerging Adulthood, 6(4), 255265.
https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696817722918
Romi, S., & Itskowitz, R. (1990). The relationship between locus of control and type of
aggression in middle-class and culturally deprived children. Personality and Individual
Differences, 11(4), 327333. https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(90)90214-C
Rose, A. J. (2002). Co-rumination in the friendships of girls and boys. Child Development,
73(6), 18301843. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8624.00509
Rose, A. J., Carlson, W., & Waller, E. M. (2007). Prospective associations of co-rumination
with friendship and emotional adjustment: Considering the socioemotional trade-offs of
35
co-rumination. Developmental Psychology, 43, 10191031.
https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.43.4.1019
Sainio, M., Veenstra, R., Huitsing, G., & Salmivalli, C. (2011). Victims and their defenders:
A dyadic approach. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 35(2), 144151.
https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025410378068
Schacter, H. L., & Juvonen, J. (2019). Dynamic changes in peer victimization and adjustment
across middle school: Does friends victimization alleviate distress? Child Development,
90(5), 17381753. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13038
Schaefer, D. R. (2012). Homophily through nonreciprocity: Results of an experiment. Social
Forces, 90(4), 12711295. https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/sos065
Schaefer, D. R. (2018). A Network Analysis of Factors Leading Adolescents to Befriend
Substance-Using Peers. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 34(1), 275312.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10940-016-9335-4
Schriber, R. A., & Guyer, A. E. (2016). Adolescent neurobiological susceptibility to social
context. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 19, 118.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2015.12.009
Shin, H. (2017). Friendship Dynamics of Adolescent Aggression, Prosocial Behavior, and
Social Status: The Moderating Role of Gender. Journal of Youth and Adolescence,
46(11), 23052320. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0702-8
Shin, H., Ryan, A. M., & North, E. (2019). Friendship processes around prosocial and
aggressive behaviors: The role of teacherstudent relatedness and differences between
elementary-school and middle-school classrooms. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 65(2),
232263. https://doi.org/10.13110/merrpalmquar1982.65.2.0232
Sijtsema, J. J., & Lindenberg, S. M. (2018). Peer influence in the development of adolescent
antisocial behavior: Advances from dynamic social network studies. Developmental
36
Review, 50, 140154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2018.08.002
Sijtsema, J. J., Lindenberg, S. M., & Veenstra, R. (2010). Do they get what they want or are
they stuck with what they can get? Testing homophily against default selection for
friendships of highly aggressive boys. The TRAILS study. Journal of Abnormal Child
Psychology, 38(6), 803813. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-010-9402-5
Smeaton, G., Byrne, D., & Murnen, S. K. (1989). The repulsion hypothesis revisited:
Similarity irrelevance or dissimilarity bias? Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 56(1), 5459. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.56.1.54
Snijders, T. A. B., Van de Bunt, G. G., & Steglich, C. E. G. (2010). Introduction to stochastic
actor-based models for network dynamics. Social Networks, 32, 4460.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2009.02.004
Steinberg, L. (2008). A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking.
Developmental Review, 28(1), 78106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2007.08.002
Stok, F. M., De Ridder, D. T. D., De Vet, E., & De Wit, J. B. F. (2014). Dont tell me what I
should do, but what others do: The influence of descriptive and injunctive peer norms on
fruit consumption in adolescents. British Journal of Health Psychology, 19, 5264.
https://doi.org/10.1111/bjhp.12030
Stone, L. B., Hankin, B. L., Gibb, B. E., & Abela, J. R. Z. (2011). Co-rumination predicts the
onset of depressive disorders during adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology,
120(3), 752757. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023384
Tan, D. T. Y., & Singh, R. (1995). Attitudes and attraction: A developmental study of the
similarity-attraction and dissimilarity-repulsion hypotheses. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 21, 975986. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167295219011
Teunissen, H. A., Spijkerman, R., Prinstein, M. J., Cohen, G. L., Engels, R. C. M. E., &
Scholte, R. H. J. (2012). Adolescents conformity to their peers pro-alcohol and anti-
37
alcohol norms: The power of popularity. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental
Research, 36(7), 12571267. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01728.x
Tilton-Weaver, L. C., Burk, W. J., Kerr, M., & Stattin, H. (2013). Can parental monitoring
and peer management reduce the selection or influence of delinquent peers? Testing the
question using a dynamic social network approach. Developmental Psychology, 49(11),
20572070. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031854
Urberg, K. A., Değirmencioğlu, S. M., & Tolson, J. M. (1998). Adolescent friendship
selection and termination: The role of similarity. Journal of Social and Personal
Relationships, 15, 703710.
Van Rijsewijk, L., Dijkstra, J. K., Pattiselanno, K., Steglich, C., & Veenstra, R. (2016). Who
helps whom? Investigating the development of adolescent prosocial relationships.
Developmental Psychology, 52(6), 894908. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000106
Van Zalk, M. H. W., Kerr, M., Branje, S. J. T., Stattin, H., & Meeus, W. H. J. J. (2010). It
takes three: Selection, influence, and de-selection processes of depression in adolescent
friendship networks. Developmental Psychology, 46(4), 927938.
https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019661
Van Zalk, M. H. W., & Van Zalk, N. (2015). Violent peer influence: The roles of self-esteem
and psychopathic traits. Development and Psychopathology, 27, 10771088.
https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579415000693
Veenstra, R., Dijkstra, J. K., & Kreager, D. A. (2018). Pathways, networks, and norms: A
sociological perspective on peer research. In W. M Bukowski, B. Laursen, & K. H.
Rubin (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (2nd edition)
(pp. 4563). Guilford.
Veenstra, R., Dijkstra, J. K., Steglich, C., & Van Zalk, M. H. W. (2013). Network-behavior
dynamics. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23(3), 399412.
38
https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12070
Veenstra, R., & Huitsing, G. (2021). Social network approaches bullying and victimization.
In P. K. Smith & J. OHiggins Norman (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of
Bullying. Volume 1 (pp. 196214). Wiley.
Wright, J. C., Giammarino, M., & Parad, H. W. (1986). Social status in small groups:
Individual-group similarity and the social misfit. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 50(3), 523536. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.50.3.523
Wynes, S., & Nicholas, K. A. (2017). The climate mitigation gap: education and government
recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environmental Research
Letters, 12, 074024.
Zweig, J. M., Phillips, S. D., & Lindberg, L. D. (2002). Predicting adolescent profiles of risk:
Looking beyond demographics. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31(02), 343353.
39
... Longitudinal social network analysis, also referred to as stochastic actor-oriented modeling (SAOM) allows researchers to disentangle the dynamic interplay of selection and influence processes in a methodologically sound way, while controlling for structural tendencies present in social networks, such as reciprocity or befriending the friends of friends, or behavioral tendencies, such as selfcorrecting (regression to the mean) or self-reinforcing (polarization) tendencies (e.g., Snijders, Van de Bunt, & Steglich, 2010;Laninga-Wijnen & Veenstra, 2021;Veenstra, Dijkstra, Steglich, & Van Zalk, 2013). However, although recent reviews have attempted to synthesize research using network models to understand the role of peer dynamics in externalizing or antisocial behaviors (Gallupe, McLevey, & Brown, 2019;Sijtsema & Lindenberg, 2018) and substance use (Henneberger, Mushonga, & Preston, 2020), similar efforts do not exist for children's and adolescents' internalizing behaviors and peer victimization. ...
... First, these models suggest the possible presence of active selection processes where children and adolescents who engage in internalizing behaviors or who experience peer victimization choose to affiliate with peers who are similar to them with respect to these behaviors (i.e., preferential attraction) or choose to avoid peers who are dissimilar to them with respect to these behaviors (i.e., repulsion; Laninga-Wijnen & Veenstra, 2021). Second, these models suggest the possible presence of passive selection processes where children and adolescents who engage in internalizing behaviors or who experience peer victimization experience marginalization in their relationships with typically developing peers and end up affiliating with peers who are similar to them incidentally (i.e., default selection; Deptula & Cohen, 2004;Laninga-Wijnen & Veenstra, 2021;Rudolph et al., 2016). Finally, these models suggest the possible presence of influence where children and adolescents become more similar to their peers in internalizing behaviors and peer victimization. ...
... In contrast to active selection, passive selection processes occur because of a marginalization effect where children and adolescents only have opportunities to socialize with other marginalized peers (Rudolph et al., 2016). These active and passive selection processes can be categorized into three types: preferential attraction, repulsion, and default selection (Laninga-Wijnen & Veenstra, 2021). ...
Article
In interpersonal models of developmental psychopathology, friendships and affiliations with peers have been considered as both consequences and determinants of children’s and adolescents’ internalizing behaviors and peer victimization. Longitudinal stochastic actor-oriented models (SAOMs) allow developmental researchers to disentangle peer selection processes where children or adolescents choose friends who are similar to themselves in internalizing behaviors or peer victimization from peer influence processes where children or adolescents become more similar to their friends over time in internalizing behaviors or peer victimization. This paper highlights the methods and results from a systematic review that screened 1447 empirical articles and located 28 using SAOMs to understand the interplay between peer social networks and internalizing behaviors or peer victimization. The results provide some evidence for both peer selection and influence related to depression, social anxiety, and peer victimization. Additionally, the results provide insight into directions for additional substantive and methodological research. Based on the findings of this review, future research is recommended that considers specific tests of peer selection and influence mechanisms, developmental and gender differences, individual and contextual moderators, multiplex relationships, methodological quality, and direct replication of prior studies.
... Neurological developments in the social brain when young people enter adolescence enhance their capacity to take different perspectives into account (Crone & Fuligni, 2020), which is important for both affection (referring to the deepening of adolescent peer relationships in terms of intimacy and trust) and status (referring to their position in the broader peer context and their worries about what peers think about them). Another explanation underlying the increased importance and valence of peers in adolescence is socio-structural (Laninga-Wijnen & Veenstra, 2021). The adult-determined environment of childhood is making way for adolescents' freedom to go where they want and to spend time with whom they wish. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article focuses on the link between social norms and behavioral development as presented in research on norms regarding bullying and aggression. The aim is to present a conceptual framework for how classroom norms may explain children’s decisions to defend others or refrain from defending. Norms emerge from group consensus about what is appropriate in given social circumstances, and can also shape, constrain, and redirect behavior at the individual level. The study of norms has gained much attraction in peer relation research, and has turned attention to group-level processes, often defined at the classroom level, which create and sustain shared meanings that impact behavioral and social adjustment. Norm conformity, pluralistic ignorance, and power balance are presented as potential micro-level mechanisms for the link between classroom popularity (or rejection) norms and defending behavior. Directions for further research are discussed, including the need to assess and test the microfoundations directly, examine gender-specific versus common norms, focus on competing classroom norms, test developmental effects of norms, examine the impact of teachers on social norms, and pay attention to the influence of personal norms.
... The transition to secondary school involves a change in the hierarchical structure of the classroom, which for many students has been stable throughout elementary school. Early adolescents have to re-establish their social position with new and unfamiliar classmates, which may result in an increase in the struggle for high popularity (Laninga-Wijnen & Veenstra, 2021). ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: This study examined the effect of popularity levels on friendship selection and friends' influence on popularity levels in early and mid-adolescence. Methods: Participants were 4205 Spanish adolescents (Mage = 13.1 years at Wave 1; 48% girls) belonging to 160 classrooms in two waves. Adolescents were asked about their friendships and the popularity of their classmates. Results: Longitudinal social network analyses showed that adolescents preferred similarly popular peers as friends. High popular classmates were more attractive as friends, particularly in early adolescence. Popular adolescents were more selective in their friendship nominations and adolescents with popular friends became more popular over time. These two effects were only significant in mid-adolescents, although comparative analyses showed a similar tendency at both age groups. Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of popularity levels in adolescents' friendship selection and suggests that popularity, at the individual and group level, plays a relevant role in social development. Implications adapted to the different selection and influence processes in early and mid-adolescence are discussed.
... Adolescents make friends with similar others and join groups of similar others, a process known as selection similarity. Evidence suggests that selection similarity and peer influence each account for a substantial portion of friend homophily across a wide range of domains (Laninga-Wijnen & Veenstra, 2021). Peer groups also become more homogeneous through a process known as deselection (or peer group pruning). ...
Article
Full-text available
Compelling evidence demonstrates that peer influence is a pervasive force during adolescence, one that shapes adap-tive and maladaptive attitudes and behaviors. This literature review focuses on factors that make adolescence a period of special vulnerability to peer influence. Herein, we advance the Influence-Compatibility Model, which integrates converging views about early adolescence as a period of increased conformity with evidence that peer influence functions to increase affiliate similarity. Together, these developmental forces smooth the establishment of friendships and integration into the peer group, promote interpersonal and intragroup compatibility, and eliminate differences that might result in social exclusion.
Article
Full-text available
Existing literature has mostly explained the occurrence of bullying victimization by individual socioemotional maladjustment. Instead, this study tested the person‐group dissimilarity model (Wright et al., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50: 523–536, 1986) by examining whether individuals’ deviation from developmentally important (relational, socio‐behavioral, and physical) descriptive classroom norms predicted victimization. Adolescents (N = 1267, k = 56 classrooms; Mage = 13.2; 48.7% boys; 83.4% Dutch) provided self‐reported and peer‐nomination data throughout one school year (three timepoints). Results from group actor–partner interdependence models indicated that more person‐group dissimilarity in relational characteristics (fewer friendships; incidence rate ratios [IRR]T2 = 0.28, IRRT3 = 0.16, fewer social media connections; IRRT3 = 0.13) and, particularly, lower disruptive behaviors (IRRT2 = 0.35, IRRT3 = 0.26) predicted victimization throughout the school year.
Article
This Social Development quartet highlights how social network approaches can enhance developmental researchers’ understanding of the benefits of intergroup connections for diverse youth. The introduction provides an overview of the four included articles, highlighting their common and unique contributions to the literature. The first article describes four relational mechanisms that could explain the benefits of intergroup connections and summarizes promising social network methods that can be used to explore these mechanisms. The second article examines how friends’ parental education is associated with the academic outcomes of adolescents from socioeconomically and ethnoracially diverse backgrounds. The remaining two articles examine how cross-linguistic relationships at the individual and setting level are associated with academic and social outcomes for youth. As a set these articles represent multiple types of intergroup connections, network relationships (e.g., friendship, affiliation, academic collaboration) and settings (e.g., schools, classrooms, afterschool programs). They provide a nuanced account of the benefits of intergroup connections and offer promising future directions for research.
Article
Full-text available
Peer influence occurs across a wide variety of behavioral domains, which is an important reason for peer-led interventions: interventions in which peers are involved in the delivery of the program. These programs are promising in combatting undesirable behaviors (e.g., risk behavior) and promoting desirable behavior (e.g., healthy lifestyle), but it was shown recently that the effectiveness of these programs is modest at best and the mechanisms underlying programs’ effectiveness are poorly understood. Research is needed that promotes understanding of the relative, cumulative, and interactive impacts of different types of peer relations, and unpacks the various mechanisms underlying peer selection and influence. This has the potential to yield insights that advance theory and optimize peer-led interventions.
Article
Full-text available
School bullying is a clear violation of children’s rights to a safe education and is a major concern among school professionals and parents. Many antibullying interventions focus on enhancing peer defending of victims to combat bullying and to promote victims’ psychosocial functioning. However, longitudinal studies on the effects of being defended on (a) diminishing victimization and (b) enhancing victims’ psychosocial adjustment are lacking, and the role of the broader peer context has been largely unexplored. Therefore, this study examined whether being defended decreases victimization and improves victims’ psychosocial adjustment, and whether defending peer norms moderate these effects. Data were derived from a nationwide Dutch study on the effectiveness of antibullying interventions, with N = 5,415 students (Mage = 9.93; 48.3% girls) from 238 classrooms (54.2% control classrooms) in 68 elementary schools. Findings indicate that victims with at least one defender at the start of the school year (Time 1) experienced higher feelings of belonging at the end of the school year (Time 2) compared with nondefended victims, but experienced lower feelings of belonging compared with nonvictims. Defended victims did not differ from nondefended victims in self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and severity of victimization at Time 2. Nonvictims were significantly better adjusted than defended and nondefended victims regarding these outcomes. Descriptive and popularity norms for defending did not moderate the links between being defended and victims’ adjustment and severity of victimization at Time 2. Thus, being defended only partly relieves victims’ plight, irrespective of how normative defending behaviors are in classrooms.
Article
Full-text available
Although prior research has indicated that peer norms for aggression enhance the spread of aggression in classrooms, it is unclear to date how these norms relate to students’ classroom climate perceptions and school adjustment. Aggressive descriptive norms reflect the average aggression of all students in classrooms, whereas aggressive popularity norms represent the extent to which aggressive behavior relates to popularity among peers. This study examined the role of aggressive descriptive and popularity norms in the classroom climate perceptions (cooperation, conflict, cohesion, isolation) and school adjustment (feelings of belonging; social, academic, and general self-esteem) of popular, well-liked, and victimized children. Self-reported and peernominated data were obtained from 1,511 children (Mage = 10.60 years, SD = .50; 47.2% girls) from 58 fifthgrade classrooms. The results indicated that aggressive descriptive and popularity norms both matter in elementary school, but in diverging ways. Specifically, aggressive descriptive norms – rather than popularity norms – contributed to negative classroom climate perceptions irrespective of students’ social position. In addition, whereas descriptive norms contributed to between-classroom variations in some aspects of school adjustment, aggressive popularity norms related to increased school maladjustment for popular and victimized children specifically. Thus, aggressive descriptive norms and popularity norms matter in complementary ways for children’s classroom climate perceptions and adjustment in elementary education.
Article
Full-text available
In peer relations research, interest is increasing in studying the neural underpinnings of peer experiences in order to understand how peer interactions relate to adjustment and well-being. This review provides an overview of 27 studies examining how positive and negative peer experiences with personally familiar peers relate to neural processes. The review illustrates the ways that researchers have creatively designed controlled functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments employing real-life relationships. The review highlights evidence supporting the role of reward and affect sensitivity, as well as neural sensitivity to social exclusion in relation to peer experiences. Further, the review highlights research about how peer experiences modulate neural underpinnings of risk-taking and prosocial behavior. The review concludes with the challenges that studies aiming to combine peer and brain research face and provides avenues for future research.
Article
Full-text available
Compelling evidence demonstrates that peer influence is a pervasive force during adolescence, one that shapes adap-tive and maladaptive attitudes and behaviors. This literature review focuses on factors that make adolescence a period of special vulnerability to peer influence. Herein, we advance the Influence-Compatibility Model, which integrates converging views about early adolescence as a period of increased conformity with evidence that peer influence functions to increase affiliate similarity. Together, these developmental forces smooth the establishment of friendships and integration into the peer group, promote interpersonal and intragroup compatibility, and eliminate differences that might result in social exclusion.
Chapter
Full-text available
Social network research is the way to examine bullying as a group process. Cross-sectional network studies allow us to examine who bullies whom or who defends whom, as well as the agreement on these dyadic relationships. Longitudinal network studies allow us to particularly examine selection and influence processes. The longitudinal studies with the most power have shown that selection and influence processes play a role for bullies. For victims, selection and influence processes have been found in adolescence (secondary education), but not in childhood (elementary education). Social network dynamics in bullying and victimization can also be linked to research on the impact of social norms or the evaluation of an intervention. Recent studies have also started to examine interdependencies between multiple positive and negative relationships. Most social network research on bullying and victimization has been done in late childhood or early adolescence. A few studies, however, have shown that it is also feasible to examine network-behavior dynamics at younger ages. Further research is necessary on whether and how individuals in a network, relationship patterns, or the entire network structure can be targeted by interventions.
Article
Full-text available
Peer influence is one of the most proximal risk factors for adolescent substance use, and decades of theoretical and empirical research point to the importance of disentangling two interrelated processes that often co-occur: (1) peer selection is the process whereby adolescents choose to interact with one another; and (2) peer socialization is the process whereby individual behavior is shaped over time. Recent advancements in social network analyses, including the application of stochastic actor based models to developmental studies, have helped to disentangle the contributions of peer selection and socialization to adolescent substance use. The current study is the first systematic review of this literature, aiming to identify the extent to which adolescent substance use is associated with peer selection and socialization and highlighting patterns in study design across studies. Forty studies that met inclusion criteria were identified and systematically coded for study design characteristics (e.g., number of time points; number of covariates) and significant peer selection and socialization effects by substance use outcome. This review found support for peer selection effects on adolescent alcohol and tobacco use. Additionally, most studies reported peer socialization effects for adolescent alcohol use. However, relatively few studies reported socialization effects for tobacco use. Few studies reported on the peer effects associated with adolescent drug use. Variations in study design, including variations in the bounds of the network and in the covariates included in modeling, helped to identify areas for future research. Future research that helps to further clarify the roles of specific peer selection and socialization mechanisms will help with the development and refinement of prevention and intervention programs focused on reducing adolescent substance use.
Article
Full-text available
Prior work has shown that popular peers can set a powerful norm for the valence and salience of aggression in adolescent classrooms, which enhances aggressive friendship processes (selection, maintenance, influence). It is unknown, however, whether popular peers also set a norm for prosocial behavior that can buffer against aggressive friendship processes and stimulate prosocial friendship processes. This study examined the role of prosocial and aggressive popularity norm combinations in prosocial and aggressive friendship processes. Three waves of peer-nominated data were collected in the first- and second year of secondary school (N = 1816 students; 81 classrooms; Mage = 13.06; 50.5% girl). Longitudinal social network analyses indicate that prosocial popularity norms have most power to affect both prosocial and aggressive friendship processes when aggressive popularity norms are non-present. In prosocial classrooms (low aggressive and high prosocial popularity norms), friendship maintenance based on prosocial behavior is enhanced, whereas aggressive friendship processes are largely mitigated. Instead, when aggressive popularity norms are equally strong as prosocial norms (mixed classrooms) or even stronger than prosocial norms (aggressive classrooms), aggression is more important for friendship processes than prosocial behavior. These findings show that the prosocial behavior of popular peers may only buffer against aggressive friendship processes and stimulate prosocial friendship processes if these popular peers (or other popular peers in the classroom) abstain from aggression.
Article
Combining theories of health lifestyles—interrelated health behaviors arising from group-based identities—with those of network and behavior change, we investigated network characteristics of health lifestyles and the role of influence and selection processes underlying these characteristics. We examined these questions in two high schools using longitudinal, complete friendship network data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Latent class analyses characterized each school’s predominant health lifestyles using several health behavior domains. School-specific stochastic actor-based models evaluated the bidirectional relationship between friendship networks and health lifestyles. Predominant lifestyles remained stable within schools over time, even as individuals transitioned between lifestyles. Friends displayed greater similarity in health lifestyles than nonfriend dyads. Similarities resulted primarily from teens’ selection of friends with similar lifestyles but also from teens influencing their peers’ lifestyles. This study demonstrates the salience of health lifestyles for adolescent development and friendship networks.
Article
In interpersonal models of developmental psychopathology, friendships and affiliations with peers have been considered as both consequences and determinants of children’s and adolescents’ internalizing behaviors and peer victimization. Longitudinal stochastic actor-oriented models (SAOMs) allow developmental researchers to disentangle peer selection processes where children or adolescents choose friends who are similar to themselves in internalizing behaviors or peer victimization from peer influence processes where children or adolescents become more similar to their friends over time in internalizing behaviors or peer victimization. This paper highlights the methods and results from a systematic review that screened 1447 empirical articles and located 28 using SAOMs to understand the interplay between peer social networks and internalizing behaviors or peer victimization. The results provide some evidence for both peer selection and influence related to depression, social anxiety, and peer victimization. Additionally, the results provide insight into directions for additional substantive and methodological research. Based on the findings of this review, future research is recommended that considers specific tests of peer selection and influence mechanisms, developmental and gender differences, individual and contextual moderators, multiplex relationships, methodological quality, and direct replication of prior studies.
Article
The growing body of research detailing the pronounced effects of criminal stigma on inequality in the US underscores the importance of labeling theory. In spite of the renewed interest in labeling, little research has evaluated the theoretical mechanisms underlying the theory. Drawing on the labeling perspective, this article evaluates mechanisms underlying the relationship between school punishment and reductions in adolescent academic achievement. It uses recent innovations in longitudinal network analysis to examine the consequences of school punishment as a dynamic interplay of labeling, network selection, and group influence. Results indicate that school punishment facilitates selection into academically underperforming peer networks and that this change in network composition is largely responsible for the association between school punishment and reductions in adolescent academic achievement.
Article
This study uses recent data to investigate if smoking initiation diffuses through friendship networks over the high school period and explores if diffusion processes differ across schools. One thousand four hundred and twenty-five racially and ethnically diverse youth from four high schools in Los Angeles were surveyed four times over the high school period from 2010 to 2013. Probit regression models and stochastic actor-based models for network dynamics tested for peer effects on smoking initiation. Friend smoking was found to predict adolescent smoking, and smoking initiation diffused through friendship networks in some but not all of the schools. School differences in smoking rates and the popularity of smokers may be linked to differences in the diffusion of smoking through peer networks. We conclude that there are differences in peer effects on smoking initiation across schools that will be important to account for in network-based smoking interventions.
Article
Research has demonstrated that adolescence is an important time for self- and other-oriented development that underlies many skills vital for becoming a contributing member of society with healthy intergroup relations. It is often assumed that these two processes, thinking about self and thinking about others, are pitted against each other when adolescents engage in social decision making such as giving or sharing. Recent evidence from social neuroscience, however, does not support this notion of conflicting motives, suggesting instead that thinking about self and others relies on a common network of social-affective brain regions, with the medial prefrontal cortex playing a central role in the integration of perspectives related to self and others. Here, we argue that self- and other-oriented thinking are intertwined processes that rely on an overlapping neural network. Adolescents’ motivation to contribute to society can be fostered most when self- and other-oriented motives align. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 71 is January 4, 2020. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.