Cross-Dimensional Friendship Selection as a Risk Factor for Peer Influence on Substance Use among Adolescents

Steven A. Haas, Arizona State University
David Schaefer, Arizona State University
Olga Kornienko, Arizona State University
Nicholas J. Bishop, Arizona State University

Within the context of adolescent social relationships there is a long-standing yet rarely investigated paradox: for many social and behavioral characteristics friendships form through homophily, while those same friendships serve as the conduit of socialization (e.g., social influence). The paradox lies in the fact that social influence on a behavior cannot occur in relationships that are homophilous on the behavior. We propose to reconcile this paradox through the operation of cross-dimensional selection, by which one’s value on one dimension facilitates ties to others with particular values on another dimension. Building on various social-psychological theories, we utilize data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and a dynamic network model to investigate the peer selection processes by which adolescents place themselves at risk for social influence on substance use. We also investigate heterogeneity across illicit substances.

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Presented in Session 53: Peers, Neighborhoods, and Health