Original Paper

Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 10, pp 1163-1177

First online:

Smoke in the Looking Glass: Effects of Discordance Between Self- and Peer Rated Crowd Affiliation on Adolescent Anxiety, Depression and Self-feelings

  • B. Bradford BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Heather Von BankAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • , Laurence SteinbergAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Temple University

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Peer crowds serve as an identity marker for adolescents, indicating their image and status among peers; but adolescents do not always endorse peer appraisals of crowd affiliation. We report on two studies—one with 924 adolescents in grades 7–12 and a second with a more diverse population of 2,728 students in grades 9–11, followed for 2 years—that examined how congruence between peer and self-appraisals of crowd affiliation relate to self-esteem and internalizing symptoms. Analyses indicate that high-status crowd members may suffer and low-status crowd members benefit by denying their peer crowd affiliation, but effects are modest in size and not entirely consistent across the two studies. Findings underscore the value of symbolic interactionist principles concerning reflected appraisal processes in understanding how peer crowd affiliation affects adolescent self-image.


Peer groups Self-concept Depression Peer status Social identity