Peer Group Socialization of Homophobic Attitudes and Behavior During Adolescence


  • I thank the school administrators and students for their support and participation in this project; Dorothy L. Espelage for her support throughout the project; Harold D. Green Jr., for his assistance in the social network analysis; and the reviewers for their thoughtful feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript. Preliminary results of this study were presented in March 2006 at the 11th Biennial Meeting of the Society of Research on Adolescence, San Francisco, CA.

concerning this article should be addressed to V. Paul Poteat, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 226 Education Building, Champaign, IL 61820. Electronic mail may be sent to


A social developmental framework was applied to test for the socialization of homophobic attitudes and behavior within adolescent peer groups (Grades 7–11; aged 12–17 years). Substantial similarity within and differences across groups were documented. Multilevel models identified a group socializing contextual effect, predicting homophobic attitudes and behavior of individuals within the group 8 months later, even after controlling for the predictive effect of individuals’ own previously reported attitudes and behavior. Several group characteristics moderated the extent to which individuals’ previously reported attitudes predicted later attitudes. Findings indicate the need to integrate the concurrent assessment of individual and social factors to inform the construction of more comprehensive models of how prejudiced attitudes and behaviors develop and are perpetuated.