Positive Peer Association Among Black American Youth and the Roles of Ethnic Identity and Gender

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Abstract

The study examined whether peer association, a subtype of peer influence that involves the indirect modeling of behaviors, can promote positive development among Black American adolescents living in high-risk neighborhoods. Data were collected during a three-year longitudinal study from a sample of 316 Black American adolescents (M = 11.65 years). As positive peer association increased over time, youth experienced an increase in self-esteem, school connectedness, paternal and maternal closeness, and a decrease in supportive beliefs about aggression. Additionally, lower ethnic identity appeared to account for why some youth experienced a sharper increase in maternal and paternal closeness as positive peer association increased. Future interventions should consider harnessing the ability of prosocial peers to foster healthy development.

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