Depression socialization within friendship groups at the transition to adolescence: the roles of gender and group centrality as moderators of peer influence.J Abnorm Psychol. 2011 Nov; 120(4):857-67.JA
Tests of interpersonal theories of depression have established that elevated depression levels among peers portend increases in individuals' own depressive symptoms, a phenomenon known as depression socialization. Susceptibility to this socialization effect may be enhanced during the transition to adolescence as the strength of peer influence rises dramatically. Socialization of depressive symptoms among members of child and adolescent friendship groups was examined over a 1-year period among 648 youth in grades six through eight. Sociometric methods were utilized to identify friendship groups and ascertain the prospective effect of group-level depressive symptoms on youths' own depressive symptoms. Hierarchical linear modeling results revealed a significant socialization effect and indicated that this effect was most potent for (a) girls and (b) individuals on the periphery of friendship groups. Future studies would benefit from incorporating child and adolescent peer groups as a developmentally salient context for interpersonal models of depression.