Published: Nov. 5, 2020

jimi adams, Health and Behavioral Sciences, University of Colorado Denver

Peer Network Processes in Adolescents' Health Lifestyles

Combining theories of health lifestyles—interrelated health behaviors arising from group-based identities—with network and behavior change, we examined influence and selection processes between friendship networks and health lifestyles. We propose that friendship networks shape lifestyles, while simultaneously being a product of lifestyles. We examine these questions using data from two high schools with longitudinal, complete friendship network data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Latent class analyses characterized each school’s predominant health lifestyles based on several health behavior domains. School-specific stochastic actor-based models evaluated the bidirectional relationship between friendship networks and health lifestyles. Predominant lifestyles remained stable within schools over time, even as individuals transitioned between lifestyles. In both schools, friends displayed more similarity in health lifestyles than other peers, and this similarity resulted primarily from selection, but also from influence processes.