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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2000 Aug;28(4):313-25.

Influence of deviant friends on delinquency: searching for moderator variables.

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  • 1Research Unit on Children's Psycho-Social Maladjustment, University of Montreal, Canada.


Three categories of potential moderators of the link between best friend's deviancy and boys' delinquency during early adolescence were investigated: personal (i.e., disruptiveneness profile during childhood, attitude toward delinquency), familial (i.e., parental monitoring, attachment to parents), and social (i.e., characteristics of other friends). Best friend's and other friends' deviancy were assessed during preadolescence through the use of peer ratings. Potential moderators were assessed at the same age period with teacher ratings or self-reports. Finally, delinquent behaviors were assessed at ages 13 and 14, as well as age 10 for control purposes, with self-reports. Results showed that boys' disruptiveness profiles during childhood, attachment to parents, and attitude toward delinquency moderated the link between best friend's deviancy and later delinquent behaviors. Other friends' deviancy and parental monitoring had main effects but no moderating effects. These results help clarify the conditions under which exposure to a deviant best friend can influence boys' delinquent behaviors. They also help to reconcile different theoretical explanations of the role of deviant friends in the development of delinquency.

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