Research

Popularity, Likeability, and Peer Conformity: Four Field Experiments

Gommans, R., & Cillessen, A. H. N., & Sandstrom, M. J. (2013)
Manuscript in preparation for submission. Radboud University Nijmegen. 

Adolescents tend to alter their attitudes and behaviors to match those of others; a peer influence process named peer conformity. This study investigated to what extent peer conformity depended on the status (popularity and likeability) of the influencer and the influencee. The study consisted of two phases. In Phase 1, 810 12- to 15-year-old adolescents participated in an experiment to measure peer conformity to one of four reference groups varying in status. In Phase 2, a subsample of 269 12- to 13-year-old adolescents participated in three additional experiments in which peer conformity to actual classmates was measured. Results showed that participants conformed more to high status peers than to low status peers, and that peer status as a mechanism of peer influence did not operate in the same way for boys and girls. Further, the influencer’s level of popularity or likeability was related to the degree of peer conformity in some cases. Differences between the experiments in degree and direction of peer conformity were discussed.

Parts of this paper were presented in an oral presentation at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, Seattle, WA (USA), April 2013. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments related to this study.

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