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Adolescents who like each other may become more similar to each other with regard to internalizing and externalizing problems, though it is not yet clear which social mechanisms explain these similarities. In this longitudinal study, we analyzed four mechanisms that may explain similarity in adolescent peer networks with regard to externalizing and internalizing problems: selection, socialization, avoidance and withdrawal. At three moments during one school-year, we asked 542 adolescents (8th grade, M-age = 13.3 years, 51 % female) to report who they liked in their classroom, and their own internalizing and externalizing problems. Adolescents tend to prefer peers who have similar externalizing problem scores, but no significant selection effect was found for internalizing problems. Adolescents who share the same group of friends socialize each other and then become more similar with respect to externalizing problems, but not with respect to internalizing problems. We found no significant effects for avoidance or withdrawal. Adolescents may choose to belong to a peer group that is similar to them in terms of externalizing problem behaviors, and through peer group socialization (e.g., enticing, modelling, mimicking, and peer pressure) become more similar to that group over time.
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- Peer Influences on Internalizing and Externalizing Problems among Adolescents: A Longitudinal Social Network Analysis
Mitch van Geel
- Springer US