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

Authors


  • *

    This research was supported by a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant (R15 HD040195) awarded to Ernest V. E. Hodges. An earlier version of this study was presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence, 12th Biennial Meeting, Chicago, IL, March 2008. We thank Scott Gest (Pennsylvania State University) for his useful comments on our presentation. We are also thankful to D. Wayne Osgood, Denise C. Gottfredson, and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Direct correspondence to Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, University of Groningen, ICS, Grote Rozenstraat 31, 9712 TG Groningen, The Netherlands (e-mail: jan.dijkstra@rug.nl).

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.

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