Peer-perceived admiration and social preference: Contextual correlates of positive peer regard among suburban and urban adolescents

Bronwyn E. Becker, Suniya S. Luthar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The primary purpose of this study was to understand further the heterogeneity of popularity, by exploring contextual correlates of two dimensions of positive peer regard among seventh graders within two highly disparate sociodemographic groups: affluent suburban and low-income urban (N = 636). Three sets of attributes were examined, all consistently linked to social status in past research: rebellious behaviors (aggression, academic disengagement, delinquency, and substance use), academic application (effort at school and good grades), and physical attributes (attractiveness and athletic ability). The data provide empirical validation for the conceptual distinctions among peer-perceived admiration and social preference with adolescents from diverse contexts. More specifically, results showed that within each socioeconomic context (a) some forms of rebellious behaviors are clearly admired, (b) prosocial attributes are linked with peer-perceived admiration and social preference, (c) physical attractiveness and athletic skills are important for positive peer regard, the former particularly for suburban girls and the latter for suburban boys, and (d) aggression elicits admiration among early adolescents, but can also generate their disdain (i.e., lowered social preference). In the urban context, results provided evidence for the salience of distinct forms of rebellious and achievement oriented behaviors among different racial/ethnic groups as well. ©

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-144
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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