Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 1409–1420 | Cite as

A Social Network Approach to the Interplay Between Adolescents’ Bullying and Likeability over Time

  • Miranda Sentse
  • Noona Kiuru
  • René Veenstra
  • Christina Salmivalli
Empirical Research


Our knowledge on adolescents’ bullying behavior has rapidly increased over the past decade and it is widely recognized that bullying is a group process and, consequently, context-dependent. Only since recently, though, researchers have had access to statistical programs to study these group processes appropriately. The current 1-year longitudinal study examined the interplay between adolescents’ bullying and likeability from a social network perspective. Data came from the evaluation of the Finnish KiVa antibullying program, consisting of students in grades 7–9 (N = 9,183, M age at wave 1 = 13.96 years; 49.2 % boys; M classroom size = 19.47) from 37 intervention and 30 control schools. Perceived popularity, gender, and structural network effects were additionally controlled. Longitudinal social network analysis with SIENA revealed that, overall, the higher the students’ level of bullying, the less they were liked by their peers. Second, students liked peers with similar levels of bullying and this selection-similarity effect was stronger at low levels of bullying. This selection effect held after controlling for selection-similarity in perceived popularity and gender. Third, students were likely to increase in bullying when they liked peers high on bullying and to decrease in bullying when they liked peers low on bullying. Again, this influence effect held after controlling for the effects of perceived popularity and gender on changes in bullying behavior. No significant differences between control and intervention schools appeared in the effects. The results are discussed in light of their theoretical and methodological implications.


Bullying Social status Social network analysis Longitudinal Peer relationships 



This research was funded by the Academy of Finland project Bullying Networks across School Classes (project 255584 awarded to Christina Salmivalli) as part of the European Collaborative Research Project ‘Social Influence in Dynamic Networks’.

Author contributions

MS conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript; NK, RV, and CS participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Ethical standard

Ethical standards were followed in the execution of this study. The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miranda Sentse
    • 1
    • 2
  • Noona Kiuru
    • 3
  • René Veenstra
    • 2
  • Christina Salmivalli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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