Self-control theory (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990) argues that individuals with similar attributes tend to 'end up together' (i.e., homophily) because of the tendency to select friends based on self-control. Studies documenting homophily in peer groups interpret the correlation between self-control, peer delinquency, and self-reported delinquency as evidence that self-control is an influential factor in friendship formation. However, past studies are limited because they do not directly test the hypothesis that self-control influences friendship selection, nor do they account for other mechanisms that may influence decisions. As a result, it is unclear whether the correlation between individual and peer behavior is the result of selection based on self-control or alternative mechanisms. To address this gap in the literature this study employs exponential random graph modeling to test hypotheses derived from self-control theory using approximately 63,000 respondents from 59 schools from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health). In contrast to the predictions made by Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990), and the conclusions drawn from prior research, there is little evidence that self-control influences friendship selection. The findings are embedded in past work on the relationship between self-control and peer relationships, and implications for future research are discussed.
- Add health
- Exponential random graph model
- Peer delinquency
- Social networks
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine