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INFLUENCE AND SELECTION PROCESSES IN WEAPON CARRYING DURING ADOLESCENCE: THE ROLES OF STATUS, AGGRESSION, AND VULNERABILITY

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Abstract:

The role of peers in weapon carrying (guns, knives, and other weapons) inside and outside the school was examined in this study. Data stem from a longitudinal study of a high-risk sample of male students (7th to 10th grade; N = 167) from predominantly Hispanic low-socio-economic-status schools in the United States. Longitudinal social-network models were used to test whether similarity in weapon carrying among friends results from peer influence or selection. From a goal-framing approach, we argue that weapon carrying might function as a status symbol in friendship networks and, consequently, be subject to peer influence. The findings indicate that weapon carrying is indeed a result of peer influence. The role of status effects was supported by findings that weapon carrying increased the number of friendship nominations received by peers and reduced the number of given nominations. In addition, peer-reported aggressiveness predicted weapon carrying 1 year later. These findings suggest that adolescent weapon carrying emerges from a complex interplay between the attraction of weapon carriers for affiliation, peer influence in friendship networks, and individual aggression.

Keywords: aggression; influence; longitudinal social network analyses (SIENA); peers; selection; weapon carrying

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00183.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, University of Groningen 2: Department of Psychology, Yeshiva University 3: Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona 4: Department of Psychology, St. John's University, University of Turku

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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