Prestigious Youth are Leaders but Central Youth are Powerful: What Social Network Position Tells us About Peer Relationships

  • Naomi C. Z. AndrewsEmail author
Empirical Research


Measures of social network position provide unique social and relational information yet have not been used extensively by researchers who study peer relationships. This study explored two measures—social network prestige and social network centrality—to improve conceptualization of their similarities, differences, and meaning within a peer relationships context. Prestige and centrality were computed from friendship nominations (N = 396 6th graders; 48% girls; 49% White) and participants nominated peers on several social indicators (e.g., aggressive, popular). Two example classroom networks were examined to visually depict social network position. Associations between measures of social network position and social indicators were examined using correlations and latent profile analysis. Latent profile analysis identified three profiles based on the social indicators, which differentially related to prestige and centrality. Overall, prestigious youth were generally well-liked, prosocial, and leaders, whereas central youth were powerful and aggressive. The results strengthen the conceptualization of these network-based measures, allowing them to be more readily used by peer relationships researchers to understand youth’s interaction patterns and behaviors.


Social network position Prestige Centrality Social status Popularity 



The author would like to thank Dr. Carol Lynn Martin for her contributions to this study, including her support in conceptualizing and framing this study, talking through issues and options, and overseeing the implementation and administration of the study from which data for this study were drawn.


The research was supported by funds from the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Data sharing Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

This study employed an opt-out consent procedure (with active student assent), meaning that parents had the opportunity to request that their child not participate in the study. Of the total 414 sixth grade students enrolled in participating schools at the time of data collection, 18 parents requested that their child not participate. All students gave active assent prior to survey administration (no students declined participation). The recruitment and consent procedure were approved by the participating schools and the university Institutional Review Board.

Supplementary material


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child and Youth StudiesBrock UniversitySt. CatharinesCanada

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