Peer influence and context: the interdependence of friendship groups, schoolmates and network density in predicting substance use
McGloin, J.M.; Sullivan, C.J.; Thomas, K.J.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence 43(9): 1436-1452
This article focuses on the degree to which friends' influence on substance use is conditioned by the consistency between their behavior and that of schoolmates (individuals enrolled in the same school, but not identified as friends), contributing to the literature on the complexity of interactive social influences during adolescence. Specifically, it hypothesizes that friends' influence will diminish as their norms become less similar to that of schoolmates. The authors also propose that this conditioning relationship is related to the density of the friendship group. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (AddHealth) (n ~ 8,000, 55% female) to examine the interactive relationship between friend and schoolmate influences on adolescent substance use (smoking and drinking). The sample contains students ranging from age 11 to 22 and is 60% White. The findings demonstrate that, as the substance use of the friendship group becomes more dissimilar from schoolmates' substance use, the friendship group's influence on adolescent substance use diminishes. Further, the results demonstrate that this conditioning relationship does not emerge when the friendship group is highly dense.