Pragmatism in modeling peer influence: Dynamics, outcomes, and change processes

Thomas J. Dishion, Bernadette Marie Bullock, Isabela Granic

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


This paper reviews the model-building approach to developmental psychopathology as it applies to understanding the influence of peers on adolescent problem behavior. Considerable longitudinal evidence suggests that deviant peer involvement is prognostic of escalations in various forms of problem behavior, including substance use, delinquent behavior, and violence. Most convincing, however, are data from randomized intervention trials that show alarming iatrogenic effects for aggregating high-risk peers. This paper shows that intervention research can also clarify the role of parents in reducing deviant peer involvement. Results from a 4-year prevention trial are reported for a community sample of multiethnic middle school youth. Random assignment to family-centered services in a school Family Resource center produced reduced growth in deviant peer involvement. The extensiveness of the parenting intervention was correlated with reduced growth in deviant peer involvement, especially among high-risk youth. Findings are discussed with respect to developmental theory and the design of future intervention trials that clarify the role of adults in structuring the emerging adolescents' world of peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-981
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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