Advertisement

The Evolution of Youth Friendship Networks from 6th to 12th Grade: School Transitions, Popularity and Centrality

  • Diane H. FelmleeEmail author
  • Cassie McMillan
  • Paulina Inara Rodis
  • D. Wayne Osgood
Chapter
Part of the Frontiers in Sociology and Social Research book series (FSSR, volume 2)

Abstract

This chapter examines adolescents’ friendship patterns from 6th through 12th grade, and investigates the impact on friendship networks of two transitions in the institutionalized life course, one from elementary to middle school and the other from middle to high school. Using information from 51 networks in 26 school districts, this study considers data from 13,214 students (PROSPER). Findings show that adolescent popularity and centrality tend to reach their maximum in early adolescence and then consistently decline until 12th grade. Results also demonstrate that both school transitions propel the process of declining centrality, by exacerbating the negative consequences to individual centrality. Furthermore, students who transition between 8th and 9th grade experience declines in social integration that persist until the end of high school. Thus, during the period of adolescence, people become less popular and are known by fewer people over time, and school transitions magnify these potentially problematic trends.

Keywords

Adolescents Friendships Social networks PROSPER Sociometric popularity Centrality Social network indegree School transitions Middle school transition Junior high transition High school transition 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Duane Alwin and David Johnson for helpful comments on our work. This research was supported in part by the W.T. Grant Foundation (8316) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (RO1-DA08225; T32-DA-017629; F31-DA-024497), and uses data from PROSPER, a project directed by R. L. Spoth and funded by grant RO1-DA013709 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Support also came from the Pennsylvania State University and the National Science Foundation under an IGERT award # DGE-1144860, Big Data Social Science.

References

  1. Aikins, J. W., Bierman, K. L., & Parker, J. G. (2005). Navigating the transition to junior high school: The influence of pre-transition friendship and self-system characteristics. Social Development, 14(1), 42–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, J. P., Porter, M. R., McFarland, F. C., Marsh, P., & McElhaney, K. B. (2005). The two faces of adolescents’ success with peers: Adolescent popularity, social adaptation, and deviant behavior. Child Development, 76(3), 747–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, J. P., Uchino, B. N., & Hafen, C. A. (2015). Running with the pack: Teen peer-relationship qualities as predictors of adult physical health. Psychological Science, 26(10), 1574–1583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alwin, D. F. (2012). Integrating varieties of life course concepts. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 67B(2), 206–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bagwell, C., & Schmidt, M. E. (2011). Friendships in childhood & adolescence. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bagwell, C. L., Newcomb, A. F., & Bukowski, W. M. (1998). Preadolescent friendship and peer rejection as predictors of adult adjustment. Child Development, 69(1), 140–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barber, B., & Olsen, J. (2004). Assessing the transitions to middle and high school. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19(1), 3–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benner, A. D. (2011). The transition to high school: Current knowledge, future directions. Educational Psychology Review, 23(3), 299–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benner, A. D., & Graham, S. (2009). The transition to high school as a developmental process among multiethnic urban youth. Child Development, 80(2), 356–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Berndt, T. J., & Hawkins, J. A. (1985). The effects of friendships on students’ adjustment after the transition to junior high school. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.Google Scholar
  11. Berndt, T. J., & Hoyle, S. G. (1985). Stability and change in childhood and adolescent friendships. Developmental Psychology, 21(6), 1007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Berndt, T. J., & Keefe, K. (1995). Friends’ influence on adolescents’ adjustment to school. Child Development, 66(5), 1312–1329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Berndt, T. J., Hawkins, J. A., & Jiao, Z. (1999). Influences of friends and friendships on adjustment to junior high school. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-), 45(1), 13–41.Google Scholar
  14. Blyth, D., Simmons, R., & Carlton-Ford, S. (1983). The adjustment of early adolescents to school transitions. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 3(1–2), 105–120. https://doi.org/10.1177/027243168331008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bowker, A. (2004). Predicting friendship stability during early adolescence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 24(2), 85–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Branje, S. J. T., Frijns, T., Finkenauer, C., Engels, R., & Meeus, W. (2007). You are my best friend: Commitment and stability in adolescents’ same-sex friendships. Personal Relationships, 14(4), 587–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Calvó-Armengol, A., Patacchini, E., & Zenou, Y. (2009). Peer effects and social networks in education. The Review of Economic Studies, 76(4), 1239–1267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (1993). When do individual differences matter? A paradoxical theory of personality coherence. Psychological Inquiry, 4(4), 247–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Caspi, A., Harrington, H., Moffitt, T. E., Milne, B. J., & Poulton, R. (2006). Socially isolated children 20 years later: Risk of cardiovascular disease. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 160(8), 805–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chan, A., & Poulin, F. (2007). Monthly changes in the composition of friendship networks in early adolescence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 53(4), 578–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Crockett, L., Petersen, A., Graber, J., Schulenberg, J., & Ebata, A. (1989). School transitions and adjustment during early adolescence. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 9(3), 181–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Değirmencioğlu, S. M., Urberg, K. A., Tolson, J. M., & Richard, P. (1998). Adolescent friendship networks: Continuity and change over the school year. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-), 44(3), 313–337.Google Scholar
  23. Elder, G. H. (1994). Time, human agency, and social change: Perspectives on the life course. Social Psychology Quarterly, 57(1), 4–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Elder, G. H., & Social Science Research Council (U.S.). (1985). Life course dynamics: Trajectories and transitions, 1968–1980. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Faris, R., & Felmlee, D. (2014). Casualties of social combat: School networks of peer victimization and their consequences. American Sociological Review, 79(2), 228–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Feiring, C., & Lewis, M. (1991). The development of social networks from early to middle childhood: Gender differences and the relation to school competence. Sex Roles, 25(3–4), 237–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Felmlee, D. H. (2001). No couple is an island: A social network perspective on dyadic stability. Social Forces, 79(4), 1259–1287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Felmlee, D., & Faris, R. (2013). Interaction in social networks. In J. DeLamater & A. Ward (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (pp. 439–464). Dordrecht: Springer. Retrieved May 24, 2017, http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-007-6772-0_15
  29. Felmlee, D., McMillan, C., Inara Rodis, P., & Osgood, D. W. (2018). Falling behind: Lingering costs of the high school transition for youth friendships and GPA. Sociology of Education, 91(2).Google Scholar
  30. Flynn, H. K., Felmlee, D. H., & Conger, R. D. (2014). The social context of adolescent friendships parents, peers, and romantic partners. Youth Society, 49(5), 679–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gest, S. D., Graham-Bermann, S. A., & Hartup, W. W. (2001). Peer experience: Common and unique features of number of friendships, social network centrality, and sociometric status. Social Development, 10(1), 23–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Giordano, P. C. (2003). Relationships in adolescence. Annual Review of Sociology, 29(1), 257–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gustafsson, P. E., Janlert, U., Theorell, T., Westerlund, H., & Hammarström, A. (2012). Do peer relations in adolescence influence health in adulthood? Peer problems in the school setting and the metabolic syndrome in middle-age. PLoS One, 7(6), e39385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Haas, S. A., Schaefer, D. R., & Kornienko, O. (2010). Health and the structure of adolescent social networks. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51(4), 424–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hafen, C. A., Laursen, B., Burk, W. J., Kerr, M., & Stattin, H. (2011). Homophily in stable and unstable adolescent friendships: Similarity breeds constancy. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(5), 607–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hardy, C. L., Bukowski, W. M., & Sippola, L. K. (2002). Stability and change in peer relationships during the transition to middle-level school. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 22(2), 117–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hartl, A. C., Laursen, B., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2015). A survival analysis of adolescent friendships the downside of dissimilarity. Psychological Science, 26(8), 1304–1315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hirsch, B. J., & Rapkin, B. D. (1987). The transition to junior high school: A longitudinal study of self-esteem, psychological symptomatology, school life, and social support. Child Development, 58(5), 1235–1243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Johnson, M. P., & Leslie, L. (1982). Couple involvement and network structure: A test of the dyadic withdrawal hypothesis. Social Psychology Quarterly, 45(1), 34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kahn, R. L., & Antonucci, T. C. (1980). Convoys over the life course: Attachment roles and social support. Life Span Development, 3, 253–267.Google Scholar
  41. Kingery, J. N., Erdley, C. A., & Marshall, K. C. (2011). Peer acceptance and friendship as predictors of early adolescents’ adjustment across the middle school transition. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly (1982-), 57(3), 215–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kohli, M. (2007). The institutionalization of the life course: Looking back to look ahead. Research in Human Development, 4(3–4), 253–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Langenkamp, A. G. (2010). Academic vulnerability and resilience during the transition to high school: The role of social relationships and district context. Sociology of Education, 83(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Langenkamp, A. G. (2011). Effects of educational transitions on students’ academic trajectory: A life course perspective. Sociological Perspectives, 54(4), 497–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McDougall, P., & Hymel, S. (1998). Moving into middle school: Individual differences in the transition experience. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, 30(2), 108–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McElhaney, K. B., Antonishak, J., & Allen, J. P. (2008). They like me, they like me not: Popularity and adolescents perceptions of acceptance predicting social functioning over time. Child Development, 79(3), 720–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McFarland, D., Moody, J., Diehl, D., Smith, J., & Thomas, R. (2014). Network ecology and adolescent social structure. American Sociological Review, 79(6), 1088–1121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mikami, A. Y., Szwedo, D. E., Allen, J. P., Evans, M. A., & Hare, A. L. (2010). Adolescent peer relationships and behavior problems predict young adults’ communication on social networking websites. Developmental Psychology, 46(1), 46–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Moody, J., Brynildsen, W. D., Osgood, D. W., Feinberg, M. E., & Gest, S. (2011). Popularity trajectories and substance use in early adolescence. Social Networks, 33(2), 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Neild, R. C. (2009). Falling off track during the transition to high school: What we know and what can be done. The Future of Children, 19(1), 53–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Newcomb, A. F., & Bagwell, C. L. (1995). Children’s friendship relations: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 117(2), 306–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Newman, B. M., Newman, P. R., Griffen, S., & O’Connor, K. (2007). The relationship of social support to depressive symptoms during the transition to high school. Adolescence, 42(167), 441.Google Scholar
  53. Osgood, D. W., Ragan, D. T., Wallace, L., Gest, S. D., Feinberg, M. E., & Moody, J. (2013). Peers and the emergence of alcohol use: Influence and selection processes in adolescent friendship networks. Journal of Research on Adolescence: The Official Journal of the Society for Research on Adolescence, 23(3).Google Scholar
  54. Parker, J. G., & Seal, J. (1996). Forming, losing, renewing, and replacing friendships: Applying temporal parameters to the assessment of children’s friendship experiences. Child Development, 67(5), 2248–2268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Poulin, F., & Chan, A. (2010). Friendship stability and change in childhood and adolescence. Developmental Review, 30(3), 257–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Roderick, M. (2003). What’s happening to the boys?: Early high school experiences and school outcomes among African American male adolescents in Chicago. Urban Education, 38(5), 538–607.Google Scholar
  57. Rodkin, P. C., & Hanish, L. D. (2007). Social network analysis and children’s peer relationships (Vol. 118). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  58. Schaefer, D. R., Simpkins, S. D., Vest, A. E., & Price, C. D. (2011). The contribution of extracurricular activities to adolescent friendships: New insights through social network analysis. Developmental Psychology, 47(4), 1141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Seidman, E., Allen, L., Aber, J. L., Mitchell, C., & Feinman, J. (1994). The impact of school transitions in early adolescence on the self-system and perceived social context of poor urban youth. Child Development, 65(2), 507–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Selfhout, M., Branje, S., & Meeus, W. (2008). The development of delinquency and perceived friendship quality in adolescent best friendship dyads. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(4), 471–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Selfhout, M. H. W., Branje, S. J. T., ter Bogt, T. F. M., & Meeus, W. H. J. (2009). The role of music preferences in early adolescents’ friendship formation and stability. Journal of Adolescence, 32(1), 95–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sentse, M., Kiuru, N., Veenstra, R., & Salmivalli, C. (2014). A social network approach to the interplay between adolescents’ bullying and likeability over time. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(9), 1409–1420. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1007/s10964-014-0129-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shi, Y., & Moody, J. (2017). Most likely to succeed: Long-run returns to adolescent popularity. Social Currents, 4(1), 13–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. South, S. J., & Haynie, D. L. (2004). Friendship networks of mobile adolescents. Social Forces, 83(1), 315–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Temkin, D. A., Gest, S. D., Osgood, D. W., Feinberg, M., & Moody, J. (2015). Social network implications of normative school transitions in non-urban school districts. Youth & Society, 0044118X15607164.Google Scholar
  66. Ueno, K. (2005). The effects of friendship networks on adolescent depressive symptoms. Social Science Research, 34(3), 484–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Umberson, D., Crosnoe, R., & Reczek, C. (2010). Social relationships and health behavior across the life course. Annual Review of Sociology, 36(1), 139–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Valente, T. W., Unger, J. B., & Johnson, C. A. (2005). Do popular students smoke? The association between popularity and smoking among middle school students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37(4), 323–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Vaquera, E., & Kao, G. (2008). Do you like me as much as i like you? Friendship reciprocity and its effects on school outcomes among adolescents. Social Science Research, 37(1), 55–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wallis, J., & Barrett, P. (1998). Adolescent adjustment and the transition to high school. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 7(1), 43–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). 12th grade nodes have been locked in place (Vol. 8). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  72. Weiss, C. C., & Bearman, P. S. (2007). Fresh starts: Reinvestigating the effects of the transition to high school on student outcomes. American Journal of Education, 113(3), 395–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., Mac Iver, D., Reuman, D. A., & Midgley, C. (1991). Transitions during early adolescence: Changes in children’s domain-specific self-perceptions and general self-esteem across the transition to junior high school. Developmental Psychology, 27(4), 552–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wrzus, C., Hänel, M., Wagner, J., & Neyer, F. J. (2013). Social network changes and life events across the life span: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 139(1), 53–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane H. Felmlee
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cassie McMillan
    • 1
  • Paulina Inara Rodis
    • 1
  • D. Wayne Osgood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and CriminologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations