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12-08-2019 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 3/2020 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 3/2020

The Role of Prosocial and Aggressive Popularity Norm Combinations in Prosocial and Aggressive Friendship Processes

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 3/2020
Auteurs:
Lydia Laninga-Wijnen, Christian Steglich, Zeena Harakeh, Wilma Vollebergh, René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra
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Abstract

Prior work has shown that popular peers can set a powerful norm for the valence and salience of aggression in adolescent classrooms, which enhances aggressive friendship processes (selection, maintenance, influence). It is unknown, however, whether popular peers also set a norm for prosocial behavior that can buffer against aggressive friendship processes and stimulate prosocial friendship processes. This study examined the role of prosocial and aggressive popularity norm combinations in prosocial and aggressive friendship processes. Three waves of peer-nominated data were collected in the first- and second year of secondary school (N = 1816 students; 81 classrooms; Mage = 13.06; 50.5% girl). Longitudinal social network analyses indicate that prosocial popularity norms have most power to affect both prosocial and aggressive friendship processes when aggressive popularity norms are non-present. In prosocial classrooms (low aggressive and high prosocial popularity norms), friendship maintenance based on prosocial behavior is enhanced, whereas aggressive friendship processes are largely mitigated. Instead, when aggressive popularity norms are equally strong as prosocial norms (mixed classrooms) or even stronger than prosocial norms (aggressive classrooms), aggression is more important for friendship processes than prosocial behavior. These findings show that the prosocial behavior of popular peers may only buffer against aggressive friendship processes and stimulate prosocial friendship processes if these popular peers (or other popular peers in the classroom) abstain from aggression.

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