Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 1453–1464 | Cite as

Friendship Networks and Achievement Goals: An Examination of Selection and Influence Processes and Variations by Gender

Empirical Research


Interactions with friends are a salient part of students’ experience at school. Thus, friends are likely to be an important source of influence on achievement goals. This study investigated processes within early adolescent friendships (selection and influence) with regard to achievement goals (mastery, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance goals) among sixth graders (N = 587, 50 % girls at wave 1, N = 576, 52 % girls at wave 2) followed from fall to spring within one academic year. Students’ gender was examined as a moderator in these processes. Longitudinal social network analysis found that friends were similar to each other in mastery goals and that this similarity was due to both selection and influence effects. Influence but not selection effects were found for performance-approach goals. Influence effects for performance-approach goals were stronger for boys compared to girls in the classroom. Neither selection, nor influence, effects were found in relation to performance-avoidance goals. However, the higher a student was in performance-avoidance goals, the less likely they were to be named as a friend by classmates. Implications for early adolescents’ classroom adjustment are discussed.


Early adolescence Friends’ influence Achievement goals Gender 


Author Contributions

HS conceived of the study, did the analyses and interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript; AR conceived of the study and helped draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


  1. Ahn, H.-J., Garandeau, C. F., & Rodkin, P. C. (2010). Effects of classroom embeddedness and density on the social status of aggressive and victimized children. Journal of Early Adolescence, 30, 76–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altermatt, E. R., & Brody, E. F. (2009). Coping with achievement-related failure: An examination of conversations between friends. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 55(4), 454–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Altermatt, E. R., & Pomerantz, E. M. (2003). The development of competence-related and motivational beliefs: An investigation of similarity and influence among friends. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 111–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 261–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Andermann, E. M., & Midgley, C. (1996). Changes in achievement goal orientations, perceived academic competence, and grade across the transition to middle-level schools. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22(3), 269–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bandura, A. (1971). Vicarious and self-reinforcement processes. In R. Glaser (Ed.), The nature of reinforcement. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Benenson, J. F., Roy, R., Waite, A., Goldbaum, S., Linders, L., & Simpson, A. (2002). Greater discomfort as a proximate cause of sex differences in competition. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 48, 225–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berndt, T. J., & Keefe, K. (1995). Friends’ influence on adolescents’ adjustment to school. Child Development, 66, 1312–1329.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brechwald, W. A., & Prinstein, M. J. (2011). Beyond homophily: A decade of advances in understanding peer influence processes. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 166–179.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, B. B., Bakken, J. P., Ameringer, S. W., & Mahon, S. D. (2008). A comprehensive conceptualization of the peer influence process in adolescence. In M. J. Prinstein & K. A. Dodge (Eds.), Understanding peer influence in children and adolescents (pp. 17–44). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bussey, K., & Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory of gen- der development and differentiation. Psychological Review, 106, 676–713.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cairns, R., Leung, M. C., Buchana, L., & Cairns, B. D. (1995). Friendships and social networks in childhood and adolescence: Fluidity, reliability, and interrelations. Child Development, 66(5), 1330–1345.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De la Haye, K., Green, H. D., Kennedy, D., Pollard, M., & Tucker, J. (2013). Selection and influence mechanisms associated with marijuana initiation and use in adolescent friendship networks. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 474–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeLay, D., Laursen, B., Kiuru, N., Nurmi, J. E., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2013). Selecting and retaining friends on the basis of cigarette smoking similarity. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 464–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diekman, A. B., & Eagly, A. H. (2000). Stereotypes as dynamic constructs: Women and men of the past, present, and future. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26, 1171–1188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Elliot, A. J., & Church, M. A. (1997). A hierarchical model of approach and avoidance achievement motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 218–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Elliot, A. J., & Dweck, C. (2005). A conceptual history of the achievement goal construct. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 52–72). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  19. Farmer, T. W., Lines, M. M., & Hamm, J. V. (2011). Revealing the invisible hand: The role of teachers in children’s peer experiences. (Introduction to the special issue). Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 32(5), 247–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Friedel, J. M., Cortina, K. S., Turner, J. C., & Midgley, C. (2007). Academic goals, efficacy beliefs and coping strategies in mathematics: The role of perceived parent and teacher goal emphasis. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32(3), 434–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gest, S. D., Davidson, A. J., Rulison, K. L., Moody, J., & Welsh, J. A. (2007). Features of groups and status hierarchies in girls’ and boys’ early adolescent peer networks. In P. Rodkin & L. Hanish (Eds.), New directions for child and adolescent development, Special Issue: Social network analysis and children’s peer relationships. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  22. Gonida, E. N., Voulala, K., & Kiosseoglou, G. (2009). Students’ achievement goal orientations and their behavioral and emotional engagement: Co-examining the role of perceived school goal structures and parent goals during adolescence. Learning and Individual Differences, 19(1), 53–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Harackiewicz, J. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1993). Achievement goals and intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 904–915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harris, J. R. (1995). Where is the child’s environment? A group socialization theory of development. Psychological Review, 102, 458–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Horst, S. J., Finney, S. J., & Barron, K. E. (2007). Moving beyond academic achievement goal measures: A study of social achievement goals. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32(4), 667–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huisman, M., & Snijder, T. A. B. (2003). Statistical analysis of longitudinal network data with changing composition. Sociological Methods & Research, 32, 253–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huisman, M., & Steglich, C. (2008). Treatment of non-response in longitudinal network studies. Social Networks, 30(4), 297–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huitsing, G., Veenstra, R., Sainio, M., & Salmivalli, C. (2012). “It must be me” or “It could be them?”: The impact of the social network position of bullies and victims on victim’s adjustment. Social Networks, 34, 379–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hulleman, C. S., Schrager, S. M., Bodmann, S. M., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2010). A meta-analytic review of achievement goal measures: Different labels for the same constructs or different constructs with similar labels? Psychological Bulletin, 136(3), 422–449.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Juvonen, J., & Murdock, T. B. (1995). Grade-level differences in the social value of effort: Implications for self-presentation tactics in early adolescence. Child Development, 66, 1694–1705.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kindermann, T. (2007). Effects of naturally existing peer groups on changes in academic engagement in a cohort of sixth graders. Child Development, 78, 1186–1203.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kindermann, T. A., & Gest, S. D. (2009). Assessment of the peer group: Identifying naturally occurring social networks and capturing their effects. In K. H. Rubin, W. M. Bukowski, & B. Laursen (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 100–120). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lamb, L. M., Bigler, R. S., Liben, L. S., & Green, V. A. (2009). Teaching children to confront peers’ sexist remarks: Implications for theories of gender development and educational practice. Sex Roles, 61, 361–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Leaper, C. (2000). The social construction and socialization of gender. In P. H. Miller & E. K. Scholnick (Eds.), Towards a feminist developmental psychology (pp. 127–152). New York: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
  35. Leaper, C. (2013). Gender development during childhood. In P. D. Zelazo (Ed.), Oxford handbook of developmental psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 326–377). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Leaper, C., & Smith, T. E. (2004). A meta-analytic review of gender variations in children’s language use: Talkativeness, affiliative speech, and assertive speech. Developmental Psychology, 40, 993–1027.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Linnenbrink, E. A. (2005). The dilemma of performance-approach goals: The use of multiple goal contexts to promote students’ motivation and learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 197–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Logis, H., Rodkin, P. C., Gest, S. D., & Ahn, H.-J.(2013). Popularity as an organizing factor of preadolescent friendship networks: Beyond pro-social and aggressive behavior, Journal of Research on Adolescence.Google Scholar
  39. Maehr, M. L., & Zusho, A. (2009). Achievement goal theory: The past, present, and future. In K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 77–104). New York, NY US: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  40. Mehta, C. M., & Strough, J. (2009). Sex segregation in friendships and normative contexts across the life span. Developmental Review, 29, 201–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Middleton, M. J., & Midgley, C. (1997). Avoiding the demonstration of lack of ability: An underexplored aspect of goal theory. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 710–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Midgley, C., Maehr, M. L., Hicks, L., Roeser, R., Urdan, T., Anderman, E. M., et al. (1997). Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey (PALS) Manual. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  43. Ojanen, T., Sijtsema, J. J., & Rambaran, J. A. (2013). Social goals and adolescent friendships: Social selection, deselection, and influence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 550–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Osgood, D. W., Ragan, D. T., Wallace, L., Gest, S. D., Feinberg, M. E., & Moody, J. (2013). Peer and the emergence of alcohol use: Influence and selection processes in adolescent friendship networks. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 500–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Poulin, F., & Pedersen, S. (2007). Developmental changes in gender composition of friendship networks in adolescent girls and boys. Developmental Psychology, 43, 1484–1496.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Prinstein, M. J., & Dodge, K. A. (Eds.). (2008). Understanding peer influence in children and adolescents. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  47. Ripley, R. M., Snijders, T. A. B., & Preciado, P. et al. (2012). Manual for RSiena, University of Oxford: Department of Statistics, Nuffield College.Google Scholar
  48. Rodkin, P. C., Ryan, A. M., Jamison, R., & Wilson, T. (2013). Social goals, social behavior, and social status in middle childhood. Developmental Psychology, 49(6), 1139–1150.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rose, A. J., & Rudolph, K. D. (2006). A review of sex differences in peer relationship processes: Potential trade-offs for the emotional and behavioral development of girls and boys. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 98–131.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rulison, K. L., Gest, S. D., & Loken, E. (2013). Dynamic peer networks and physical aggression: The moderating role of gender and social status among peers. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 437–449.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ryan, A. M. (2000). The peer group as a context for the socialization of adolescent’s motivation, engagement, and achievement in school. Educational Psychologist, 35, 101–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ryan, A. M. (2001). The peer group as a context for the development of young adolescent motivation and achievement. Child Development, 72, 135–1150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ryan, A. M., Patrick, H., & Shim, S. (2005). Differential profiles of students identified by their teacher as having avoidant, appropriate, or dependent help-seeking tendencies in the classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 275–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ryan, A. M., & Shim, S. (2008). An exploration of young adolescents’ social achievement goals and social adjustment in middle school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), 672–687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sagotsky, G., & Lepper, M. R. (1982). Generalization of changes in children’s preferences for easy or difficult goals induced through peer modeling. Child Development, 53, 372–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Simpkins, S. D., Schaefer, D. R., Price, C. D., & Vest, A. E. (2013). Adolescent friendships. BMI, and physical activity: Untangling selection and influence through longitudinal social network analysis, Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 537–549.Google Scholar
  57. Snijders, T. A. B., Steglich, C. E. G., & Van de Bunt, G. G. (2010). Introduction to actor-based models for network dynamics. Social Networks, 32, 44–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Steglich, C., Snijder, T. A. B., & Perason, M. (2010). Dynamic networks and behavior: Separating selection from influence. Sociological Methodology, 40(1), 329–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tenney, E. R., Turkheimer, E., & Oltmanns, T. F. (2009). Being liked is more than having a good personality: The role of matching. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 579–585.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Turner, J. C., Meyer, D. K., & Midgely, C. (2003). Teacher discourse and sixth graders’ reported affect and achievement behaviors in two high-mastery/high-performance mathematics classrooms. Elementary School Journal, 103, 357–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Veenstra, R., & Steglich, C. (2012). Actor-based model for network and behavior dynamics: A tool to examine selection and influence processes. In B. Laursen, T. D. Little, & N. A. Card (Eds.), Handbook of developmental research methods. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  62. Veenstra, R., & Dijkstra, J. K. (2011). Transformations in peer networks. In B. Laursen, & W. A. Collins (Eds.), Relationship Pathways: From Adolescence to Young Adulthood (pp. 598–618). New York: Sage.Google Scholar
  63. Wentzel, K. (2011). Peer relationships, motivation, and academic performance at school. In J. Elliot & C. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of Competence and Motivation. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  64. Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., Schiefele, U., Roeser, R. W., & Davis-Kean, P. (2006). Development of achievement motivation. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (6th ed., pp. 933–1002). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  65. Zarbatany, L., McDougall, P., & Hymel, S. (2000). Gender-differentiated experience in the peer culture: Links to intimacy in preadolescence. Social Development, 9, 62–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Combined Program in Education and PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations