Grade changes in peer influence on adolescent cigarette smoking: a comparison of two measures

Addict Behav. 1991;16(1-2):21-8. doi: 10.1016/0306-4603(91)90036-h.


The effects of peer influence on adolescent cigarette smoking were investigated in longitudinal study of 309 white, middle-class subjects in the 8th and 11th grades. Subjects provided data on their smoking behavior, the proportion of their friends who smoked, and the identity of their best friend. Data from the person named as best friend was used to measure peer smoking, rather than the adolescent's perceptions of the friend's smoking. Peer influence was defined as the difference between the subject's smoking behavior and that of their best friend. This definition (PI1) minimized the confounding of peer influence with selective association. The effects of peer influence on change in smoking behavior were found to be stronger for 8th than 11th graders and for boys than girls. When the proportion of friends who smoke (PI2) was used as the measure of peer influence, the effects of peer influence were stronger for 11th than 8th graders. The relative merits of the two measures are discussed, and the argument is made that the difference between friend and adolescent smoking is a more appropriate measure of peer influence than the proportion of friends who smoke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Midwestern United States
  • Peer Group*
  • Personality Development*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Social Facilitation*
  • Social Identification