Over the past ten years or so there has been renewed research interest in understanding the role that peer selection and peer influence play in the increasing similarity in substance use among teenagers. Earlier research had confirmed the importance of peer influence but subsequent research had cautioned that peer influence and peer selection may be involved in the process of teenagers becoming similar in their substance use (Cohen, 1977: 239; Kandel, 1978b: 436; Bauman and Ennett, 1996: 187). The concept peer influence meant that the teenagers and their peers had become similar in their substance use sometime after they had become friends, while peer selection meant that the teenagers were similar (for example, in their use of drugs) before they became friends, in which case peer influence could not have explained their similarity. No definitive results have yet emerged in substance use research to confirm the relative impact of peer influence and peer selection.
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