Dynamic Social Networks and Physical Aggression: The Moderating Role of Gender and Social Status Among Peers

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Abstract

We examined three interrelated questions: (1) Who selects physically aggressive friends? (2) Are physically aggressive adolescents influential? and (3) Who is susceptible to influence from these friends? Using stochastic actor-based modeling, we tested our hypotheses using a sample of 480 adolescents (ages 11–13) who were followed across four assessments (fall and spring of 6th and 7th grade). After controlling for other factors that drive network and behavioral dynamics, we found that physically aggressive adolescents were attractive as friends, physically aggressive adolescents and girls were more likely to select physically aggressive friends, and peer-rejected adolescents were less likely to select physically aggressive friends. There was an overall peer influence effect, but gender and social status were not significant moderators of influence.

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