Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Peer influence in early adolescents' popularity goal
by Dawes, Molly, Ph.D., Temple University, 2014, 107; 3623137
Abstract (Summary)

The goal of this study was to examine influence of peers on the popularity goal of early adolescents. Research has demonstrated that there is increased preoccupation with popularity status during early adolescence, but there is little research on what influences youths' actual goal for popularity status (Adler & Adler, 1998). To address this gap in the literature, this research investigated two types of peer influences on adolescents' popularity goal over time: peer group norms and perceived peer norms. Youth are assumed to be influenced by the norms set by their peer groups and by their perceptions of the peer norms for popularity. However, individuals are also assumed to be differentially open to such influence. Therefore, I considered potential moderators for both types of peer influence. Two moderators were explored for the influence of peer group norm on early adolescents' popularity goal over time: the group's popularity status and an individual's own status within the group. For the influence of perceived peer norms on early adolescents' popularity goal over time, I considered an interaction with the peer group's norm for popularity goal.

Given the nested nature of the data, with adolescents within peer groups, this study employed Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) analyses to model the effects of peer groups on individuals over time. A total of 232 adolescents in 57 peer groups were included in the study. A series of models were analyzed to test for the influence of peer group norms on adolescents' popularity goal over time. First, the main effect of peer group norm on adolescents' popularity goal was tested. Results demonstrate that the higher the peer group norm, the higher adolescents' popularity goal at Time 2, after controlling for their popularity goal at Time 1. Second, the two-way interaction between peer group norm and groups' popularity status on adolescents' popularity goal was tested. Results indicate that the association between peer group norms and adolescents' popularity goal was significantly moderated by the popularity status of the group. A higher peer group norm was associated with higher popularity goal over time when adolescents were in low popular groups. The association between peer group norm and popularity goal remained relatively stable for those adolescents in high popular groups. Third, I tested the three-way interaction between peer group norms, groups' popularity status, and individual members' status within the group on adolescents' popularity goal over time. Results indicate that the strength of the association between group norm and adolescents' popularity goal was stronger for low status individuals than high status individuals in high popular groups. For those high status individuals, a negative association was found. There was also a positive association between group norm and popularity goal for both low and high status individuals in low popular group with overall higher levels of popularity goal (Time 2) for the low status individuals than for the high status ones in these groups.

This study also analyzed models to test for the influence of perceived peer group norms for popularity on adolescents' popularity goal over time. Results indicate there is a positive association between perceived peer norms for popularity and adolescents' popularity goal over time, even after controlling for the influence of peer group norms. There was no significant interaction of perceived peer norms and peer group norms on the adolescents' popularity goal over time. Together, results provide evidence that youths' popularity goal may be influenced by the norms established in their peer group, their groups' popularity status as indicated by the nuclear members' popularity levels, their own status within the group, and their perception of peer norms in the networks. Results suggest that both individual and peer group factors contribute to youths' openness to peer influence and that such factors should be considered when investigating how peers may influence youths' social goals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Xie, Hongling
Commitee: Drabick, Deborah, Hirsh-Pasek, Kathryn, Marshall, Peter, Steinberg, Laurence, Weinraub, Marsha
School: Temple University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-B 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Developmental psychology
Keywords: Early adolescence, Group norms, Network norms, Peer influence, Popularity goal
Publication Number: 3623137
ISBN: 9781303954474
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