Journal paper
TitleFriends and Delinquency: Is Deviant Peer Influence Real?
Issue No.28
Publish Date2012-10
Author NameMan-Kit Lei
AbstractConsistently, empirical findings have indicated that the presence of deviant peers is one of the strongest predictors of adolescent delinquency. While this association is widely accepted, the mechanisms at work have been disputed. Two competing approaches, the influence and selection approaches, have received the most scholarly attention. The influence model argues that an association with deviant peers has a real and causal impact on adolescent delinquency. Conversely, the selection model posits that perceived associations are the result of homophily, as people tend to form or select friendships with others who share similar characteristics. Using a sample of 2,280 Taiwanese adolescents from the Taiwan Youth Project along with friendship network data, this study reexamines the association between deviant peers and delinquency. In order to rule out potential biases, this study uses both perceptual and direct measures of deviant peers. The perceptual measure of deviant peers refers to an individual’s report of his or her friends’ delinquent behavior, whereas the direct measure is formed through an analysis of the friendship network data. Controlling for selection and projection effects, the results show that the effect of deviant peers on delinquency remains significant. The results also indicate that using a self-report measure of deviant peers, in contrast to a social network analysis, potentially overestimates the deviant peers-delinquency relationship. Finally, this study’s results support the combined use of both self-report measures of deviant peers in conjunction with self-control and parental monitoring measures to best account for the influence of deviant friendships on delinquency.
Keywordsdeviant peers; delinquency; influence effect; selection effect; projection effect
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