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20-02-2016 | Uitgave 8/2016 Open Access

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 8/2016

Early Adolescent Friendship Selection Based on Externalizing Behavior: the Moderating Role of Pubertal Development. The SNARE Study

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 8/2016
Aart Franken, Mitchell J. Prinstein, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, Christian E. G. Steglich, Zeena Harakeh, Wilma A. M. Vollebergh
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10802-016-0134-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


This study examined friendship (de-)selection processes in early adolescence. Pubertal development was examined as a potential moderator. It was expected that pubertal development would be associated with an increased tendency for adolescents to select their friends based on their similarities in externalizing behavior engagement (i.e., delinquency, alcohol use, and tobacco use). Data were used from the first three waves of the SNARE (Social Network Analysis of Risk behavior in Early adolescence) study (N = 1144; 50 % boys; M age  = 12.7; SD = 0.47), including students who entered the first year of secondary school. The hypothesis was tested using Stochastic Actor-Based Modeling in SIENA. While taking the network structure into account, and controlling for peer influence effects, the results supported this hypothesis. Early adolescents with higher pubertal development were as likely as their peers to select friends based on similarity in externalizing behavior and especially likely to remain friends with peers who had a similar level of externalizing behavior, and thus break friendship ties with dissimilar friends in this respect. As early adolescents are actively engaged in reorganizing their social context, adolescents with a higher pubertal development are especially likely to lose friendships with peers who do not engage in externalizing behavior, thus losing an important source of adaptive social control (i.e., friends who do not engage in externalizing behavior).

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