Date of Original Version
Social science research on peer influence has focused on learning and reinforcement processes as potential explanations for the correlation between peer behavior and the individual’s behavior. These explanations assume that social ties can have either positive or negative effects on human behavior, depending on the nature of the groups to which the individual belongs. This view has been contested by those working in the control theory tradition in criminology, who argue that all social ties promote conformity. To shed new light on this debate, we ask a question that has not been addressed in previous research – why do youths try to influence their friends’ behavior? Our analysis of written accounts of peer influence toward both positive and negative behaviors reveals clear differences in motives for peer influence toward positive, prosocial behavior and negative, deviant behavior. Influence toward deviant behavior is much more likely to be motivated by selfish concerns, and influence toward prosocial behavior is more likely to be motivated by altruistic concerns. These findings are consistent with the view that crime and deviance is asocial behavior, and not the result of strong social ties to others.
Costello, B. J., & Zozula, C. (2018). Peer influence: Mechanisms and motivations. Deviant Behavior, 39(1), 94-110. http://dx.doi.org.uri.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/01639625.2016.1260387