Changes in self-control during adolescence: Investigating the influence of the adolescent peer network

Ryan C. Meldrum, Jacob Young, Frank M. Weerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Purpose: Previous research on changes in self-control during adolescence provides evidence of stability for most individuals but change for some, drawing attention to the role of factors that may account for change. We contribute to this area of research by examining the extent to which changes in peer self-control and peer delinquency within peer networks is related to individual self-control during adolescence. Method: This study uses longitudinal social network data from three waves of the NSCR School Project to construct growth curve models of self-control and MLM models to examine the factors that contribute to changes in self-control. Results: Growth curve models demonstrate within and between-individual differences in changes to self-control that occur between ages 12-17. Furthermore, multilevel models reveal that changes in levels of self-control and delinquency among respondent's peers are related to between-individual differences and within-individual changes in self-control, net of parental social control. Conclusions: This study finds that self-control continues to evolve during adolescence as a result of processes that take place within adolescent peer-networks, calling into question Gottfredson and Hirschi's contention that peers are inconsequential for explaining differences in self-control across individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-462
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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