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04-04-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 8/2016

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 8/2016

Peer Group Similarity in Perceptions of Pubertal Timing

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 8/2016
Auteurs:
Natalie Kretsch, Jane Mendle, Jessica Duncan Cance, Kathryn Paige Harden

Abstract

Self-report measures of perceived pubertal timing correspond only weakly with clinical measures of “objective” physical development. Peer and school contexts shape adolescents’ self-perceptions of pubertal timing. The current study examined associations between perceived pubertal timing and the pubertal timing reported by nominated friends and schoolmates. Participants included 2817 adolescents (Mage = 16.6; 49 % female; 16 % Black; 20 % Hispanic) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Three measures of pubertal timing were included: age-standardized ratings of body changes, comparisons of development relative to peers (relative timing), and, in females, age at menarche. It was hypothesized that relative timing, which explicitly asks adolescents to compare themselves to their peers, would be related to the age-standardized pubertal timing of nominated friends and schoolmates. Surprisingly, there were no associations between relative timing and age-standardized pubertal timing reported by peers, suggesting that pubertal self-perceptions do not fluctuate in response to the average level of development in a friend group. Instead, males were similar to nominated friends and schoolmates in age-standardized ratings of body changes, and females were similar to nominated friends in relative timing, controlling for race, ethnicity, and age. Different self-report measures of pubertal timing index different underlying constructs, and the social processes that influence adolescents’ perceptions of pubertal maturation may differ between genders.

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