This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Predicting Early Adolescents’ Adjustment: Interaction between Friends’ Behaviors and Friends’ Demographic Characteristics




Smith, Nathan

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


The present study examined independent cross-sectional associations between friends’ behaviors (prosocial and deviant) and demographic characteristics (age, sex, school) and early adolescents’ adjustment (internalizing and externalizing problems), as well as interactions between friends’ behaviors and friends’ demographic characteristics (N = 123). Early adolescents and teachers provided reports about friends’ behaviors, and early adolescents reported on friends’ demographic characteristics. Early adolescents, parents, and teachers provided reports about early adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing problems. As hypothesized, friends’ prosocial and deviant behaviors were uniquely associated with early adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing problems, controlling for number of friends and demographic characteristics of target early adolescents and friends. Main effects of friends’ behaviors were qualified by interactions with friends’ demographic characteristics in some cases. In particular, replicated moderation analyses revealed stronger associations linking friends’ lower prosocial and higher deviant behaviors with early adolescents’ externalizing problems among early adolescents with lower proportions of older friends, compared to early adolescents with higher proportions of older friends. In addition, some support emerged for stronger associations between friends’ behaviors and early adolescents’ adjustment among early adolescents with relatively high proportions of other-sex friends (compared to lower proportions of other-sex friends) and relatively low proportions of same-school friends (compared to higher proportions of same-school friends). Thus, behavioral and adjustment similarities between early adolescents and their friends may depend on demographic features of the friendship group.