Peer Influence and Selection Processes in Adolescent Smoking Behavior
A Comparative Study
Published in: Nicotine and Tobacco Research, v. 15, no. 2, Feb. 2013 p. 534-541
Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012
INTRODUCTION: Adolescent smoking studies find evidence of active peer influence and selection processes. However, studies have shown that these processes operate differently depending on context. This study uses SIENA to model coevolutionary processes between smoking and changes in friendship ties, comparing two high schools in which data were collected in identical fashion to explore influence and selection mechanisms with respect to current smoking, and smoking levels. METHODS: This is a longitudinal survey with 2 waves of data. In-home surveys were conducted with students from 2 large high schools in the United States: a West Coast school, and a Midwestern school. Participants were consented students in 10th and 11th grades at the first wave of data collection. The primary measures were self-reported smoking behavior and friendship nominations. RESULTS: There is evidence of influence and selection in both schools for adolescents' smoking status (1 = any smoking) and for level of smoking. CONCLUSIONS: These models reflect great similarities in influence and selection processes across schools for different smoking behaviors. However, smoking prevalence may impact the exact mechanisms by which influence and selection operate. Researchers should consider smoking interventions with independent modules addressing different selection and influence processes, implemented based on contextual factors such as the prevalence of smoking.