Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Peer pressure is a phenomenon that affects many youth due to the importance of peer relations during adolescence (Brinthaupt, 2002). Consequences associated with negative peer pressure have been well documented, but the extant literature on positive peer pressure is sparse though it may be an untapped source of positive development (Padilla-Walker & Bean, 2009). The current study examined whether positive peer association, a form of peer pressure involving the indirect modeling of behaviors, can have a role in promoting healthy youth development longitudinally among African American adolescents living in low-income, urban, high violence neighborhoods. A sample of 316 African American adolescents (mean age = 11.65 years) were recruited from low income, six Chicago public schools. Data were collected during a three-year longitudinal study (6th, 7th, and 8th grade time points) using both questionnaires and the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), a time sampling technique. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) revealed that that as youth progressed from 6th to 8th grade, the more positive peer association they experienced, the better outcomes they reported over time including increased self-esteem, school connectedness, parental relationship, and less aggression. Additionally, a low sense of ethnic identity appears to account for why some youth experienced a sharper increase in outcomes as positive peer association also increased. Adolescents with a lower sense of ethnic identity appear to be more susceptible to peer association. Gender does not appear to influence youth's experience of positive peer relations. Future interventions should consider harnessing the ability of prosocial peers to foster healthy development. Such interventions would be particularly essential for Black youth who do not possess the established protective factor of having a high sense of ethnic identity.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.