Perceptions of Intimacy and Friendship Reciprocity Moderate Peer Influence on Aggression

Diana Jill Meter, Utah State University
Deborah M. Casper, University of Alabama
Noel A. Card, University of Connecticut


Previous research has shown that close friends’ influence can exacerbate adolescents’ aggressive behavior, but results of studies which examine whether friendships of greater or lesser qualities moderate peer influence effects are inconsistent. The present study tested whether the perception of the positive friendship quality of intimate exchange and friendship reciprocity moderated best friend influence on participant aggression over time. The 243 participants were approximately 12 years old and ethnically diverse. Neither intimate exchange nor reciprocity significantly moderated friend influence on aggression in a simple way, but the interaction of intimate exchange and friendship reciprocity predicted peer influence on participants’ aggression over time. Specifically, highly intimate, nonreciprocal best friendships and less intimate, reciprocal best friendships showed greatest influence when friends’ proportion of peer nominations for aggression was high. Reciprocity and intimacy should be considered when predicting peer influence on aggression.