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Dev Psychol. 2011 Jul;47(4):1141-52. doi: 10.1037/a0024091.

The contribution of extracurricular activities to adolescent friendships: new insights through social network analysis.

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School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701, USA.


Extracurricular activities are settings that are theorized to help adolescents maintain existing friendships and develop new friendships. The overarching goal of the current investigation was to examine whether coparticipating in school-based extracurricular activities supported adolescents' school-based friendships. We used social network methods and data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine whether dyadic friendship ties were more likely to exist among activity coparticipants while controlling for alternative friendship processes, namely dyadic homophily (e.g., demographic and behavioral similarities) and network-level processes (e.g., triadic closure). Results provide strong evidence that activities were associated with current friendships and promoted the formation of new friendships. These associations varied based on school level (i.e., middle vs. high school) and activity type (i.e., sports, academic, arts). Results of this study provide new insight into the complex relations between activities and friendship that can inform theories of their developmental outcomes.

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