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Research Projects

Influence of Peers

Humans are intrinsically ‘socially connected’ beings and the development of close friendships, friendship cliques and the wider school ‘peer group ecology’ are critical aspects of most children and young people’s maturing social development, and personal and social identities. Recently the ‘virtual peer group’ has become increasingly important in countries where children have widespread access to the internet. The influence of peers fluctuates over the life course but has a strong effect on many health behaviours, particularly mental health, and interacts with (opposing or reinforcing) family influences. For example, the clash between parents and teenagers about their choice of style, music and ‘inappropriate’ peers and/or boy/girlfriends is widely recognised in popular culture.

This theme develops on past and continuing work from the Youth and Health Team investigating how peer relationships shape psychosocial development, health behaviours and mental health, and how peer relationships interact with the co-influence of family, school and media. Our broad objectives are to:

1) Describe the structure and nature (composition, characteristics, social status, health and health-related behaviours) of young people’s peer groups.

2) Investigate how children and young people’s friendships, peer groups and youth (sub)cultural identities influence health: particularly mental health and health-related behaviours.

3) Explore how peer influences on health interact with, and are shaped or modified by, other major social and contextual factors, particularly family, school and mass media influences.

Publications

2012

Kelly T, McCafferty E, Metcalfe J, Petrie G, van Beinum M, Young R. Evaluating the Glasgow adolescent self-harm service: a seven-year retrospective investigation: Executive Summary. Scottish Executive Health Department, Chief Scientist's Office, Edinburgh, 2012

open access  

Young R. Can Neds (or Chavs) be non-delinquent, educated or even middle class? Contrasting empirical findings with cultural stereotypes. Sociology 2012;46:1140-1160

open access  

2011

Sweeting H, West P, Young R, Kelly S. Dimensions of adolescent subjective social status within the school community: description and correlates. Journal of Adolescence 2011;34:493-504

pubmed  open access  

Young R, McCafferty E, Metcalfe J, van Beinum MA. Evaluating the Glasgow adolescent self-harm service: a seven-year retrospective investigation: Final Report. Glasgow, 2011

Young R, McDonald-Smith L. Lisbeth Salander and the ‘Truth’ about Goths. In: Rosenberg R, editor The psychology of the girl with the dragon tattoo. Dallas: Benbella Books, 2011:9-29.

Young R, Riordan V, Stark C. Perinatal and psychosocial circumstances and risk of attempted suicide, non-suicidal self-injury and psychiatric services use: a longitudinal study of young people. BMC Public Health 2011;11:875

pubmed  open access  

Young R, Sweeting H, Ellaway A. Do schools differ in suicide risk? The influence of school and neighbourhood on attempted suicide, suicidal ideation and self-harm among secondary school pupils. BMC Public Health 2011;11:874

pubmed  open access  

2010

West P, Sweeting H, Young R, Kelly S. The relative importance of family socioeconomic status and school-based peer hierarchies for morning cortisol in youth: an exploratory study. Social Science & Medicine 2010;70:1246-53

pubmed  open access  

Young R. Trauma, attempted suicide and morning cortisol in a community sample of adolescents. Journal of Traumatic Stress 2010;23:288–291

open access  

2007

Young R. Young people and self-harm 2007 [podcast]. Raj Persaud talks to series 2007

2006

Pearson M, Sweeting H, West P, Young R, Gordon J, Turner J. Adolescent substance use in different social and peer contexts: a social network analysis. Drugs, Education, Prevention and Policy 2006;13:519-536

Sweeting H, Young R, West P, Der G. Peer victimization and depression in early-mid adolescence: A longitudinal study. British Journal of Educational Psychology 2006;76:577-594

pubmed  

Turner K, West P, Young R, Gordon J, Sweeting H. Could the peer group explain school differences in pupil smoking rates?. Social Science & Medicine 2006;62:2513-2525

pubmed  

Young R, Sweeting H, West P. Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study. British Medical Journal 2006;332:1058-1061

pubmed  open access  

2004

Turner K, Gordon J, Young R. Cigarette access and pupil smoking rates: a circular relationship. Health Promotion International 2004;19:428-436

pubmed  open access  

Young R, Sweeting H. Adolescent bullying, relationships, psychological well-being, and gender-atypical behavior: a gender diagnosticity approach. Sex Roles 2004;50:525-537

open access