Get access

Popularity as an Organizing Factor of Preadolescent Friendship Networks: Beyond Prosocial and Aggressive Behavior


  • We are grateful to the children, teachers, and school principals who participated in and contributed to this project. An earlier version of this manuscript served as the master's thesis for the first author—we would like to thank Dorothy Espelage and Karen Rudolph for their service on this Committee, and their comments that greatly improved this research; Christian Steglich, Ruth Ripley, Tom Snijders, and many others from StOCNET for their input in methodology; Linda Jacobson and the students for their help with data entry and preparation; and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on pervious drafts of this manuscript. This research was supported by grants to the second and third authors from the Institute of Education Sciences (#R305A100344) and from the William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations (#200900174).

Requests for reprints should be sent to Handrea A. Logis, 240A Col. Wolfe School, Mail Code 422, 403 E. Healey St., University of Illinois, Champaign, IL. E-mail:


This study investigates friendship selection and influence processes in relation to popularity, aggression, and prosociality among 613 fifth graders in 26 classrooms within one academic year. Results showed that youth tended to select their friends based on similarity in popularity more than similarity in aggression or prosociality. Aggressive youths tended to select prosocial peers as friends given similarity in popularity, but prosocial youths did not disproportionately nominate aggressive peers. Socialization within friendships was evident for aggressive and prosocial behavior and popularity. Discussion considers the importance of social status as a grouping mechanism in peer social ecologies, and as a malleable factor that can impact student adjustment.