Lakon and Colleagues Show Protective Role for Social Influence in Adolescents

In an article appearing in the American Journal of Public Health, CNRA faculty member and Associate Professor of Public Heath Cynthia Lakon and colleagues (including CNRA faculty Carter T. Butts and John Hipp, student Jupa Jose, and former postdoc Cheng Wang) show that social influence can actually have a protective effect among adolescents.  Using network models based on data from the National Adolescent Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the researchers show that the primary effect of social influence among adolescents in the study is to reduce – rather than increase their propensity to smoke.  Contrary to the conventional wisdom that peer influence allows “bad apples” to convert others to risky behavior, the researchers show that the main effect of peer influence is to keep the “bad apples” in check.  A video summary of the AJPH paper has been posted on the AJPH blog, and can be found here:

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