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Keywords:

  • aggression;
  • friendship selection;
  • perceived popularity;
  • social;
  • preference;
  • longitudinal social network analyses (SIENA)

Abstract

The role of physical and relational aggression in adolescents' friendship selection was examined in a longitudinal sample of 274 Chilean students from 5th and 6th grade followed over 1 year. Longitudinal social network modeling (SIENA) was used to study selection processes for aggression while influence processes were controlled for. Furthermore, the effects of network characteristics (i.e., reciprocity and transitivity), gender, and social status on friendship selection were examined. The starting assumption of this study was that selection effects based on aggression might have been overestimated in previous research as a result of failing to consider influence processes and alternative characteristics that steer friendship formation. The results show that selection effects of both physical and relational aggression disappeared when network effects, gender, and social status were taken into account. Particularly gender and perceived popularity appeared to be far more important determinants of friendship selection over time than aggression. Moreover, a peer influence effect was only found for relational aggression, and not for physical aggression. These findings suggest that similarity in aggression among befriended adolescents can be considered to be mainly a by-product rather than a leading dimension in friendship selection. Aggr. Behav. 37:417–429, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.