Friendship Dynamics of Adolescent Aggression, Prosocial Behavior, and Social Status: The Moderating Role of Gender.J Youth Adolesc. 2017 11; 46(11):2305-2320.JY
Interactions with friends are a salient part of adolescents' experience at school. Adolescents tend to form friendships with similar peers and, in turn, their friends influence adolescents' behaviors and beliefs. The current study investigated early adolescents' selection of friends and friends' influence with regard to physical aggression, prosocial behavior, and popularity and social preference (i.e., likeability) among fifth and sixth graders (N = 736, 52% girls at wave1, N = 677, 52% girls at wave 2) in elementary schools in South Korea. The moderating role of gender on early adolescents' friend selection and influence was also examined. With longitudinal social network analysis (RSiena), we found that youth tended to select friends with similar levels of physical aggression and popularity, and their friends influenced their own physical aggression and popularity over time. The higher youth were in social preference, the less likely they chose physically aggressive peers as friends. Boys were more likely to select highly popular peers as friends compared to girls, and influence effects for physical aggression and popularity were stronger for boys compared to girls. The results underscore the importance of gender in friendship dynamics among Asian early adolescents.