Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Peer Contagion/Deviancy

  • Damir S. UtržanEmail author
  • Timothy F. Piehler
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_674


Deviancy training; Deviant peers; Peer influence; Problem behavior


Peer contagion (Dishion and Tipsord 2011) refers to the transmission of deviant behaviors between youth (i.e., children and adolescents). Behaviors are considered deviant if they violate social norms and expectations. This includes, but is not limited to, substance use, delinquency, and violence. Compared to other risk factors, deviant peer affiliation is often the strongest predictor of conduct problems in youth (Deković 1999). Deviant peer affiliation also undermines normative developmental trajectories and places youth at risk for antisocial behaviors in adulthood (Piehler 2016). An understanding of peer contagion is necessary to clinical decision-making that promotes positive youth development.

Theoretical Context

The social augmentation hypothesis suggests that youth enter into relationships with deviant peers because it is adaptive in their immediate environment (Dishion et al. 2008). Youth...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Minnesota, Twin CitiesMinneapolisUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Farrah Hughes
    • 1
  1. 1.Employee Assistance ProgramMcLeod HealthFlorenceUSA