The Influence of Unreciprocated Best Friends on Adolescent Alcohol Use Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 19, 2019
  • Hicks, Richard
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • The project aimed to better understand whether some adolescents conform to the alcohol use behaviors of non-reciprocating best friends in order to obtain reciprocated friendships. The study examined (1) the relative influence of unreciprocated and reciprocated best friends on adolescent alcohol use behaviors; (2) the relative strength of unreciprocated best friend influence in two peer contexts - one in which the adolescent has no reciprocated friendships and the other in which the adolescent has reciprocated friendships; and (3) the success of alcohol use conformity in establishing reciprocated friendships. This project gave particular attention to adolescents whose only friendships within the school context were non-reciprocated relationships. Changes in adolescent alcohol use behaviors and changes in adolescent friendship reciprocity (e.g., transition from an unreciprocated best friendship at 8th grade to a reciprocated best friendship at 9th grade) were examined through the use of school-based survey data. Peer nomination data were used to determine reciprocity within friendship dyads and to obtain self-reports of peer alcohol use behaviors during the 8th and 9th grades, a time when the adolescents in this study were transitioning from middle school to high school. The findings suggested that adolescents are influenced by the alcohol use behavior of their best friend when the relationship is reciprocated. Additionally, for a subgroup of adolescents with unreciprocated best friends, those without any reciprocated friend, best friends exerted influence on their subsequent alcohol use behaviors. These relationships held only in the prediction of frequency of alcohol use, and not for initiation of alcohol use. There was modest support for the proposition that initiation of alcohol use facilitated the formation of reciprocated friendships with similar peers. This work may help elucidate the role of friendship selection and influence processes in the development of alcohol use behaviors, and it may help in the identification of adolescents who are particularly susceptible to peer influence.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Hussong, Andrea
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2006

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