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Concept: Peer group


Cooperation in a large society of self-interested individuals is notoriously difficult to achieve when the externality of one individual’s action is spread thin and wide on the whole society. This leads to the ‘tragedy of the commons’ in which rational action will ultimately make everyone worse-off. Traditional policies to promote cooperation involve Pigouvian taxation or subsidies that make individuals internalize the externality they incur. We introduce a new approach to achieving global cooperation by localizing externalities to one’s peers in a social network, thus leveraging the power of peer-pressure to regulate behavior. The mechanism relies on a joint model of externalities and peer-pressure. Surprisingly, this mechanism can require a lower budget to operate than the Pigouvian mechanism, even when accounting for the social cost of peer pressure. Even when the available budget is very low, the social mechanisms achieve greater improvement in the outcome.

Concepts: Sociology, Peer group, Welfare economics, Tragedy of the commons, Externality, Peer pressure, Market failure, Pigovian tax


Weight-based stigma compromises the social networks of overweight children. To date, research on the position of overweight children in their peer network has focused only on friendship relations, and not on negative relationship dimensions. This study examined how overweight was associated with relations of friendship and dislike (antipathies) in the peer group. Exponential random graph models (ERGM) were used to examine friendship and antipathy relations among overweight children and their classmates, using a sub-sample from the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (N = 504, M age 11.4). Findings showed that overweight children were less likely to receive friendship nominations, and were more likely to receive dislike nominations. Overweight children were also more likely than their non-overweight peers to nominate classmates that they disliked. Together, the results indicate that positive and negative peer relations are impacted by children’s weight status, and are relevant to addressing the social marginalization of overweight children.

Concepts: Sociology, Adolescence, Graph theory, Peer group, Friendship, Peer-to-peer, Network theory, Random graph


This study investigated relationships between attachment insecurity, maladaptive cognitive schemas, and various types of psychopathological symptoms in a sample of clinically referred adolescents (N = 82). A mediation model was tested in which maladaptive schemas operated as mediators in the relations between indices of attachment quality and conduct, peer, and emotional problems. Results revealed partial support for the hypothesized mediation effect: the schema domain of disconnection/rejection acted as a mediator in the links between insecure attachment and peer problems and emotional problems. Further analysis of these effects revealed that different types of maladaptive schemas were involved in both types of psychopathology. Altogether, findings suggest that treatment of adolescent psychological problems may need to target the improvement of attachment relationships with peers and parents and the correction of underlying cognitive schemas.

Concepts: Psychology, Adolescence, Psychiatry, Attachment theory, Mediation, Peer group, Family therapy, John Bowlby


Pseudomature behavior-ranging from minor delinquency to precocious romantic involvement-is widely viewed as a nearly normative feature of adolescence. When such behavior occurs early in adolescence, however, it was hypothesized to reflect a misguided overemphasis upon impressing peers and was considered likely to predict long-term adjustment problems. In a multimethod, multireporter study following a community sample of 184 adolescents from ages 13 to 23, early adolescent pseudomature behavior was linked cross-sectionally to a heightened desire for peer popularity and to short-term success with peers. Longitudinal results, however, supported the study’s central hypothesis: Early adolescent pseudomature behavior predicted long-term difficulties in close relationships, as well as significant problems with alcohol and substance use, and elevated levels of criminal behavior.

Concepts: Scientific method, Prediction, Economics, Hypothesis, Adolescence, Term, Thought experiment, Peer group


When people are faced with opinions different from their own, they often revise their own opinions to match those held by other people. This is known as the social-conformity effect. Although the immediate impact of social influence on people’s decision making is well established, it is unclear whether this reflects a transient capitulation to public opinion or a more enduring change in privately held views. In an experiment using a facial-attractiveness rating task, we asked participants to rate each face; after providing their rating, they were informed of the rating given by a peer group. They then rerated the same faces after 1, 3, or 7 days or 3 months. Results show that individuals' initial judgments are altered by the differing opinions of other people for no more than 3 days. Our findings suggest that because the social-conformity effect lasts several days, it reflects a short-term change in privately held views rather than a transient public compliance.

Concepts: Decision making, Critical thinking, Social psychology, Face transplant, Peer group, Rod Stewart, Opinion, Peer pressure


The degree to which media contributes to body dissatisfaction, life satisfaction and eating disorder symptoms in teenage girls continues to be debated. The current study examines television, social media and peer competition influences on body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms and life satisfaction in a sample of 237 mostly Hispanic girls. 101 of these girls were reassessed in a later 6-month follow-up. Neither television exposure to thin ideal media nor social media predicted negative outcomes either concurrently nor prospectively with the exception of a small concurrent correlation between social media use and life satisfaction. Social media use was found to contribute to later peer competition in prospective analysis, however, suggesting potential indirect but not direct effects on body related outcomes. Peer competition proved to be a moderate strong predictor of negative outcomes both concurrently and prospectively. It is concluded that the negative influences of social comparison are focused on peers rather than television or social media exposure.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Adolescence, Photography, Peer group


We investigated a unique way in which adolescent peer influence occurs on social media. We developed a novel functional MRI (fMRI) paradigm to simulate Instagram, a popular social photo-sharing tool, and measured adolescents' behavioral and neural responses to likes, a quantifiable form of social endorsement and potential source of peer influence. Adolescents underwent fMRI while viewing photos ostensibly submitted to Instagram. They were more likely to like photos depicted with many likes than photos with few likes; this finding showed the influence of virtual peer endorsement and held for both neutral photos and photos of risky behaviors (e.g., drinking, smoking). Viewing photos with many (compared with few) likes was associated with greater activity in neural regions implicated in reward processing, social cognition, imitation, and attention. Furthermore, when adolescents viewed risky photos (as opposed to neutral photos), activation in the cognitive-control network decreased. These findings highlight possible mechanisms underlying peer influence during adolescence.

Concepts: Psychology, Tobacco smoking, Neuroscience, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cognitive science, Educational psychology, Adolescence, Peer group


The negative consequences of peer victimization on psychosocial adjustment are well documented. The consequences, however, may depend on who the bullies are. In this study, we examined the consequences of same- versus other-sex victimization. The sample consisted of 4,941 Finnish adolescents (ages 14-15; 47.7% boys). We used structural equation modeling to examine both concurrent and longitudinal associations of same- and other-sex victimization with depression, negative perception of peers, and social self-esteem. Both same- and other-sex victimization were related to psychosocial adjustment. Concurrently, the victimization experiences with same-sex peers in particular were associated with generalized cognitions about peers, whereas being bullied by other-sex peers was related to adolescents' social self-esteem more strongly than victimization by same-sex peers. The longitudinal associations, in turn, showed that only being bullied by boys had carry-over effects on girls' adjustment. Other-sex victimization can have serious consequences especially on girls' psychosocial adjustment. [Supplementary material is available for this article. Go to the publisher’s online edition of the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology for the following supplemental resource: Complementary information on model fit indices and the nested model chi-square difference tests.].

Concepts: Psychology, Following, Model, Adolescence, The Adolescents, Peer group, Structural equation modeling, Bullying


Girls often harm others' social standing by starting rumors about peers or by excluding others from peer group activities, which is called relational aggression. Although relational aggression is not a new phenomenon, there have been relatively few interventions designed to address this, especially for urban ethnic minority girls. The Friend to Friend (F2F) program, developed through an iterative participatory action research process, has proven to be effective in improving targeted relationally aggressive urban girls' social problem-solving knowledge and decreasing levels of relational aggression, with effects being maintained 1 year after treatment. In the current article, we examine the broader effects of the F2F program. Findings suggest that the indicated F2F program has broader effects such as increasing prosocial behaviors, decreasing relational and physical aggression, and improving teacher-student relationships among non-targeted boys. In addition, the program demonstrated some effects for non-targeted girls including an increase in prosocial behaviors and improved teacher-student relationships. Implications for examining the cost-effectiveness of indicated interventions such as F2F are discussed.

Concepts: Improve, Monotonic function, Sociology, Research, Aggression, Relational aggression, Minority group, Peer group


Increased survival rates from childhood cancer call for efforts to reintegrate children with cancer back into their academic and social environments. The aims of this study were to: (1) review and analyse the existing literature on school re-entry interventions for children with cancer; and (2) discuss the importance of peer involvement in the treatment. Relevant databases were searched using equivalent search algorithms and six studies were selected that target children with cancer and/or their classmates. Two authors independently reviewed the literature for data extraction. The articles were reviewed using the PRISMA model for reporting reviews. Statistical calculations for the meta-analyses were done using Review Manager 5.2. The meta-analyses showed significant effects of school re-entry programmes in terms of enhancing academic achievement in children with cancer (P = 0.008) and lowering their levels of depression (P = 0.05). Increased knowledge among classmates was associated with less fear and a more positive attitude towards the child with cancer. Due to limited numbers of patients, lack of control groups, and the diversity of intervention strategies used in previous studies, there is a need for intervention programmes exploring the optimal path for the reintegration of children with cancer into the education system and into their peer groups.

Concepts: Algorithm, Child, Childhood, Review, Meta-analysis, Peer group