Selection and Influence Mechanisms Associated with Marijuana Initiation and Use in Adolescent Friendship Networks

Published in: Journal of Research on Adolescence, v. 23, no. 3, Sep. 2013, p. 474-486

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2013

by Kayla de la Haye, Harold D. Green, David P. Kennedy, Michael S. Pollard, Joan S. Tucker

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Friends are thought to influence adolescent drug use. However, few studies have examined the role of drugs in friendship selection, which is necessary to draw sound conclusions about influence. This study applied statistical models for social networks to test the contribution of selection and influence to associations in marijuana use among friends in two large high schools (N = 1,612; M age = 16.4). There was evidence for friend selection based on similar lifetime and current marijuana use at both schools, but friends were found to influence the initiation and frequency of adolescent marijuana use in just one of these schools. There was minimal evidence that peer effects were moderated by personal, school, or family risk factors.

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