Antisocial peer affiliation and externalizing disorders in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood: Selection versus socialization effects

Diana R. Samek, Rebecca J. Goodman, Stephen A. Erath, Matt McGue, William G. Iacono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Prior research has demonstrated both socialization and selection effects for the relationship between antisocial peer affiliation and externalizing problems in adolescence. Less research has evaluated such effects postadolescence. In this study, a cross-lagged panel analysis was used to evaluate the extent of socialization (i.e., the effect of antisocial peer affiliation on subsequent externalizing disorders) and selection (i.e., the effect of externalizing disorders on subsequent antisocial peer affiliation) in the prospective relationships between antisocial peer affiliation and externalizing disorders from adolescence through young adulthood. Data from a community sample of 2,769 individuals (52% female) with assessments at ages 17, 20, 24, and 29 were used. Analyses with a latent externalizing measure (estimated using clinical symptom counts of nicotine dependence, alcohol use disorder, illicit drug use disorder, and adult antisocial behavior) and self-reported antisocial peer affiliation revealed significantly stronger socialization effects from age 17 to 20, followed by significantly stronger selection effects from age 20 to 24 and 24 to 29. To better understand the impact of college experience, moderation by college status was evaluated at each developmental transition. Results were generally consistent for those who were in or were not in college. Results suggest selection effects are more important in later developmental periods than earlier periods, particularly in relation to an overall liability toward externalizing disorders, likely due to more freedom in peer selection postadolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-823
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Grants DA05147 and DA024417 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Grant AA09367 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The first author was also supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project 1006129. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the aforementioned funding agencies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Adolescence
  • Antisocial peers
  • Externalizing disorders
  • Peer relationships
  • Young adulthood

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