Peer Contagion of Depressogenic Attributional Styles Among Adolescents: A Longitudinal Study

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.48). 03/2005; 33(1):25-37. DOI: 10.1007/s10802-005-0931-2
Source: PubMed


This study examined longitudinal associations between adolescents' and their friend's depressive symptoms and depressogenic attributional style. Participants included 398 adolescents in grades six through eight at the outset of the study. Adolescents completed peer nominations to identify reciprocated and unreciprocated best friendships as well as measures of depressive symptoms and depressogenic attributional style at an initial time point, and again 11 months later. Results revealed that best friends' reported level of depressive symptoms was prospectively associated with adolescents' own depressive symptoms and with adolescents' depressogenic attributional style. Moderator effects suggested that friends' attributional styles were prospectively associated with adolescents' own attributional styles for those involved in reciprocated friendships. Lastly, findings offered preliminary support for adolescents' Time 2 depressive symptoms as a mediator of the association between friends' depressive symptoms and adolescents' attributional style. Findings have important implications for cognitive and interpersonal models of adolescent depression, as well as the study of peer contagion effects.

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Available from: Mitchell J Prinstein
    • "Recent research concerning peer influence on internalizing problems has indicated that depressive symptoms and attributional styles are contagious within friend dyads and peer groups (Conway et al. 2011; Giletta et al. 2011; Stevens and Prinstein 2005). The influence may occur through discussion of adverse life events and display of negative emotions among group members (Stevens and Prinstein 2005). Withdrawn groups may function as a context socializing internal distress and depressive symptoms as group members discuss their difficulties and frustrations in social interactions and their negative attitudes toward others and life circumstances . "
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    ABSTRACT: This 1-year longitudinal study examined the effects of membership in socially withdrawn peer groups on children's social and psychological adjustment in a sample of 979 children (417 boys, 562 girls, M age = 11.84 years). Data on children's social and psychological adjustment and problems were collected from peer nominations and self-reports in the fall and spring of a single academic year. Using the Social Cognitive Map, 162 peer groups were identified. Multilevel analyses showed that affiliation with withdrawn groups negatively predicted social competence and school attitude, and positively predicted victimization and depression. The results suggest that affiliation with socially withdrawn groups is a risk factor for the development of social and psychological problems.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
    • "However, friends may also impair positive emotional and behavioral development . That is, several studies have shown that youth are often in friendships with similarly aggressive or depressive children (Cairns, Cairns, Nechermann, Gest & Gariepy, 1998; Poulin et al., 1997; Stevens & Prinstein, 2005), often select friends similar on behaviors such as aggression and delinquency (Snyder, Horsch & Childs, 1997; Werner & Crick, 2004) and are also influenced by their friends' problem behaviors (Haynie, 2001; Urberg, 1999). In adolescence, these processes become much more problematic as youth spend more time with peers and peers become important, if not the most important, socializing agents (Jang, 1999; Larson, Richards, Moneta, Holmbeck, & Duckett, 1996). "
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    ABSTRACT: In the current study, associations between individual and friends’ direct and indirect aggression and depressive problems were examined. It was expected that social status would moderate these associations such that low-status preadolescents would be more similar to their unilateral friends with regard to indirect, but not direct, aggression. Furthermore, it was expected that preadolescents’ depressive problems were positively associated to reciprocal friends’ depressive problems, in particular in low-status preadolescents. The hypotheses were tested by studying unilateral and reciprocal friendships in 204 children (Mage¼10.90; SD¼0.78; 44.1% girls). Direct and indirect aggression and depressive problems were assessed via both self- and peer-reports. Social status was assessed via peer-reported rejection (i.e., dislike) and popularity (i.e., who do others want to be associated with). Analyses showed partial support for the hypotheses, showing that individual and unilateral friends’ self-reported indirect and direct aggression were positively associated in preadolescents who were lower on popularity. Moreover, in preadolescents who were more rejected by peers, depressive problems were positively associated to reciprocal friends’ depressive problems. The current study highlights the importance of including social status and distinguishing between unilateral and reciprocal friendships when examining associations between individual and friends’ behavior.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · International Journal of Behavioral Development
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    • "Furthermore, we expected that some partner characteristics would predict adolescents' subsequent functioning even in the absence of initial partner similarity. For instance, covert characteristics, such as internalizing symptoms, could be less important to partner selection but then gain influence as partners spend time together (Baker, Milich, & Manolis, 1996; Stevens & Prinstein, 2005). In the majority of homophily studies, peer socialization is examined in an additive model where peer characteristics are tested as main effects under the assumption that all peers influence all adolescents in a roughly equivalent manner. "

    Full-text · Dataset · May 2015
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