Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 669–682 | Cite as

Peer Influence and Nonsuicidal Self Injury: Longitudinal Results in Community and Clinically-Referred Adolescent Samples

  • Mitchell J. PrinsteinEmail author
  • Nicole Heilbron
  • John D. Guerry
  • Joseph C. Franklin
  • Diana Rancourt
  • Valerie Simon
  • Anthony Spirito


Research suggests that adolescents’ engagement in nonsuicidal self-injurious (NSSI) behaviors may be increasing over time, yet little is known regarding distal longitudinal factors that may promote engagement in these behaviors. Data from two longitudinal studies are presented to examine whether NSSI may be associated with peer influence processes. Study 1 included 377 adolescents from a community-based sample; Study 2 included 140 clinically-referred adolescents recruited from a psychiatric inpatient facility. In Study 1, adolescents’ NSSI was examined at baseline and one year later. Adolescents’ nominated best friend reported their own levels of NSSI. In Study 2, adolescents’ NSSI was examined at baseline as well as 9 and 18-months post-baseline. Adolescents’ perceptions of their friends’ engagement in self-injurious behavior (including suicidality) and depressed mood also were examined at all three time points. Baseline depressive symptoms were measured in both studies; gender and age were examined as moderators of peer influence effects. Results from both studies supported longitudinal peer socialization effects of friends’ self-injurious behavior on adolescents’ own NSSI for girls, but not for boys, even after controlling for depressive symptoms as a predictor. Study 1 suggested socialization effects mostly for younger youth. Results from Study 2 also suggested longitudinal socialization effects, as well as peer selection effects; adolescents’ NSSI was associated with increasing perceptions of their friends’ engagement in depressive/self-injurious thoughts and behavior. Findings contribute to the nascent literature on longitudinal predictors of NSSI and to work on peer influence.


Nonsuicidal self-injury Self-harm Peer influence Friendship 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitchell J. Prinstein
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicole Heilbron
    • 1
  • John D. Guerry
    • 1
  • Joseph C. Franklin
    • 1
  • Diana Rancourt
    • 1
  • Valerie Simon
    • 2
  • Anthony Spirito
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Wayne State University/Merrill Palmer InstituteDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Brown University School of MedicineProvidenceUSA

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