How do school-based peer networks influence adolescents’ sexual interactions, romantic partnerships, and mixed-gender friendships? Numerous studies have examined the correlates and consequences of young heterosexual romantic relationships, but few have focused on understanding the broader peer context of romantic relationships and whether sex has different consequences for boys’ and girls’ status with their peers. This William T. Grant Scholar is examining the associations between gender, peer acceptance, and sexual partnerships, describing the association between peer status and romantic involvement, and studying the link between status asymmetries and dating experiences. (i.e., do partners with different levels of peer status find it more or less difficult to negotiate a romantic partnership, and does this association differ by gender?). He is also looking at the emergence of mixed-gender peer groups in early adolescence and trying to understand the consequences, particularly for substance use behaviors, of early or late mixed-gender friendships.
How do school-based peer networks influence adolescents’ sexual interactions, romantic partnerships, and mixed-gender friendships?