Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 10, pp 1163–1177

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

  • B. Bradford Brown
  • Heather Von Bank
  • Laurence Steinberg
Original Paper


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 


  1. Adler, P. A., & Adler, P. (1998) Peer power: Preadolescent culture and identity. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, B. B. (1989). Social type rating manual. Madison, WI: National Center on Effective Secondary Schools, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, B. B., & Klute, C. (2003). Cliques, crowds, and friendships. In G. R. Adams & M. Berzonsky (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent development (pp. 330–348). London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, B. B., & Lohr, M. J. (1987). Peer group affiliation and adolescent self-esteem: An integration of ego-identity and symbolic interaction theories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 47–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, B. B., Mory, M., & Kinney, D. A. (1994). Casting adolescent crowds in relational perspective: Caricature, channel, context. In R. Montemayor, G. R. Adams, & T. P. Gullotta (Eds.), Advances in adolescent development: Vol. 6. Personal relationships during adolescence (pp. 123–167). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, B. B., & Steinberg, L. (1990, March). Skirting the brain-nerd connection: How bright students save face among peers. Education Digest, 15(4), 57–60.Google Scholar
  7. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Rose, A. J. (2005). Understanding popularity in the peer system. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 102–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooley, C. H. (1902). Human nature and the social order. New York: Scribners.Google Scholar
  9. Derogatis, L. R (1974). The Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL): A self-report symptom inventory. Behavioral Science, 19, 1–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Deyhle, D. (1986). Break dancing and breaking out: Anglos, Utes, and Navajos in a border reservation high school. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 17, 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dusek, J. G., & McIntyre, J. G. (2003). Self-concept and self-esteem development. In G. R. Adams & M. Berzonsky (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent development (pp. 290–309). London: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Eckert, P. (1989). Jocks and burnouts: Social categories and identity in the high school. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  13. Eder, D. (1985). The cycle of popularity: Interpersonal relations among female adolescents. Sociology of Education, 58, 154–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, youth, and crisis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  15. Foley, D. J. (1990). Learning capitalist culture: Deep in the heart of tejas. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  16. Fordham, S., & Ogbu, J. (1986). Black students’ school success: Coping with the “burden of acting white”. Urban Review, 18, 176–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Graber, J. A. (2004). Internalizing problems in adolescence. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd ed., pp. 587–626). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Harter, S. (1982). The perceived competence scale for children. Child Development, 55, 195–213.Google Scholar
  19. Harter, S. (1990). Self and identity development. In S. S. Feldman & G. R. Elliott (Eds.), At the threshold: The developing adolescent (pp. 352–387). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Harter, S. (1999). The construction of the self. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  21. Harter, S., Waters, P., & Whitesell, N. R. (1988). Relational self-worth: Differences in perceived worth as a person across interpersonal contexts among adolescents. Child Development, 69, 756–766.Google Scholar
  22. Hollingshead, A. B. (1949). Elmtown’s youth. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  23. Kinney, D. (1993). From “nerds” to “normals”: Adolescent identity recovery within a changing social system. Sociology of Education, 66, 21–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and relationships: Do they predict social anxiety and depression? Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 49–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. La Greca, A. M., Prinstein, M. J., & Fetter, M. (2001). Adolescent peer crowd affiliation: Linkages with health risk behaviors and close friendships. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 26, 131–143.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Larkin, R. W. (1979). Suburban youth in cultural crisis. New York: Oxford.Google Scholar
  27. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society from the standpoint of a social behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Merten, D. E. (1996). Visibility and vulnerability: Responses to rejection by nonaggressive junior high school boys. Journal of Early Adolescence, 16, 5–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2001). Group identity and alienation: Giving the we its due. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 30, 515–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Offer, D., Ostrov, E., Howard, K. I., & Atkinson, R. (1988). The teenage world: Adolescents’ self-image in ten countries. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  31. Prinstein, M. J., & La Greca, A. M. (2002). Peer crowd affiliation and internalizing distress in childhood and adolescence: A longitudinal follow-back study. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 12, 325–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Reynolds, W. M. (1987). Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale: Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  33. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  34. Rosenberg, M. (1989). Society and the adolescent self-image (2nd ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Savin-Williams, R. C. (1998). And then I became gay. Young men’s stories. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Schwendinger, H., & Schwendinger, J. S. (1985). Adolescent subcultures and delinquency. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  37. Selman, R. (1980). The growth of interpersonal understanding: Development and clinical analysis. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  38. Stone, M. R., & Brown, B. B. (1999). Descriptions of self and crowds in secondary school: Identity claims and projections. In J. McClellan (Ed.), The role of peer groups in adolescent social identity: Stability and change (pp. 7–20). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  39. Sussman, S., Pokhrel, P., Ashmore, R. D., & Brown, B. B. (2007). Adolescent peer group identification and characteristics: A review of the literature. Addictive Behaviors, 32, 1602–1627.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Urberg, K. A., Degirmencioglu, S. M., Tolson, J. M., & Halliday-Scher, K. (2000). Adolescent social crowds: Measurement and relationship to friendships. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15, 427–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Bradford Brown
    • 1
  • Heather Von Bank
    • 1
  • Laurence Steinberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

Personalised recommendations