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03-04-2018 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 9/2018

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 9/2018

An Examination of Reciprocal Associations Between Social Preference, Popularity, and Friendship during Early Adolescence

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 9/2018
Miriam T. Stotsky, Julie C. Bowker


Getting along with peers becomes increasingly important to health and well-being during early adolescence (10–14 years). Young adolescents may succeed with peers when they are well-liked by and popular among the larger peer group (or at the group-level of social complexity). They might also fare well with peers when they are able to form numerous mutual and high quality friendships (at the dyadic-level of social complexity). Theory emphasizes the interrelatedness of different types of peer experiences, but few longitudinal studies have examined the interplay among and between group- and dyadic-level peer experiences in the same study. As a result, it is not known whether group-level peer experiences are predictors of dyadic-level peer experiences, and/or vice versa. To address this limitation, this study examined the prospective and reciprocal relations between four indices of peer experiences, preference (or being highly liked and not disliked by peers), popularity (or having a reputation as popular), friendship quantity (or having many mutual friends), and friendship or relationship quality, during early adolescence. Participants were 271 adolescents (49% girls; Mage = 11.52 years) who completed peer nominations of preference and popularity, a self-report measure of friendship quality, and nominated friends at two waves (Wave 1: November, Grade 6; Wave 2: October, Grade 7). Structural equation modeling indicated that friendship quantity predicted increases in preference and popularity and that friendship quality predicted increases in friendship quantity. Initial popularity was associated with decreases in preference. The importance of these findings for future research is discussed along with study limitations.

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