Adolescent peer crowd affiliation: Linkages with health-risk behaviors and close friendships

Annette M. La Greca, Mitchell J. Prinstein, Michael D. Fetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine adolescents' peer crowd affiliation and its linkages with health-risk behaviors, their friends' health-risk behaviors, the presence of close friends in the same peer crowd, and adolescents' social acceptance. Methods: We interviewed 250 high school students and identified six categories: popular, jocks, brains, burnouts, nonconformists, or average/other. Adolescents also reported on their health-risk behaviors (including use of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs; risky sexual behaviors; and other risk-taking behaviors), the health-risk behaviors of their friends, the peer crowd affiliation of their closest friends, and their perceived social acceptance. Results: Burnouts and nonconformists had the highest levels of health-risk behaviors across the areas assessed, the greatest proportions of close friends who engaged in similar behaviors, and relatively low social acceptance from peers. Brains and their friends engaged in extremely low levels of health-risk behaviors. Jocks and populars also showed evidence of selected areas of health risk; these teens also were more socially accepted than others. In general, adolescents' closest friends were highly nested within the same peer crowds. Conclusions: The findings further our understanding of adolescent behaviors that put them at risk for serious adult onset conditions associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality. We discuss the implications of the findings for developing health promotion efforts for adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-143
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Adolescents
  • Close friends
  • Health promotion
  • Health-risk behaviors
  • Peer crowds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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