Peer influence in the development of adolescent antisocial behavior: Advances from dynamic social network studies

J.J. Sijtsema*, S.M. Lindenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


In adolescence, peer influences are important in the development of antisocial behavior. Previous empirical work has often focused on peer similarity to make claims about peer influence. However, peer similarity can be the result of both peer selection and influence, or general social network processes, such as reciprocity (preference for mutual friendships) and transitivity (preference for becoming friends with the friends of one’s friend). Empirically, it is often difficult to separate these processes from each other. Only recently, studies have been able to statistically separate selection from influence, using dynamic social network models. These new models thus allow for a closer study of peer influence on the development of antisocial behavior. The current article presents a review of recent empirical studies that have used dynamic social network analyses to study peer influence effects for different forms of antisocial behavior (i.e., aggression, delinquency, externalizing behavior, weapon carrying) as these forms may be differently affected by peer influence. Studies that lump different kinds of antisocial behavior together as “externalizing behavior” show mixed results with regard to peer influence. With regard to the development of delinquency and weapon carrying, peer influences were observed in studies that had six month to one-year measurement intervals, but not in those with shorter intervals. With regard to direct forms of aggression, peer influence was only observed in certain contexts and depended on individual antisocial traits. What is recommended for further advance in the field of peer influence is to avoid container variables of antisocial behavior (such as “externalizing behavior”), to pay close attention to the role of status and belonging needs, and to focus more strongly on a detailed examination of the sequential order of peer selection and influence processes and their moderation by individual and contextual conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-154
JournalDevelopmental Review
Issue numberpart B
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Peer influence in the development of adolescent antisocial behavior: Advances from dynamic social network studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this