Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 1997. SD 1.2 Peer approval

04/01/1997

As children grow older, peer relationships come to play an increasingly important role in determining their own behaviors and attitudes.1 For example, teenagers reporting that a large proportion of their friends are (or would like to be) sexually active are more likely to become sexually active themselves.2

Two measures of potential peer influence are offered here: the percentage of youth reporting that getting good grades has great or very great importance to their peers, and the percentage reporting that peers would disapprove of intentionally angering a teacher in school. Between 1980 and 1995, the percentage of 12th graders reporting that their peers value good grades stayed fairly constant, varying between 44 percent and 49 percent (see Table SD 1.2.A). During that same time period, the percentage reporting peer disapproval of angering a teacher in school decreased from 41 percent in 1980 to 33 percent in 1990, and remained at that level before rising slightly to 36 percent in 1995 (see Table SD 1.2.B).

Differences by Age. Eighth grade students were more likely than either 10th or 12th graders to report that their peers consider good grades to be of great or very great importance in 1995 (55 percent versus 44 and 46 percent, respectively). On the other hand, 12th grade students were more likely than 8th or 10th graders to report peer disapproval of intentionally angering a teacher in school (36 percent versus 22 and 24 percent, respectively).

Differences by Gender. Female students in each grade were more likely than males to report that their peers value good grades, and that they would disapprove of intentionally angering teachers. For example, among 12th grade youth in 1995, 50 percent of females and only 41 percent of males reported that peers hold good grades to be of great or very great importance (see Table SD 1.2.A). In that same year, 41 percent of 12th grade females and 32 percent of males reported peer disapproval of intentionally angering a teacher in school (see Table SD 1.2.B).

Differences by Race. For all years for which data are presented, black students in all grades were considerably more likely than their white counterparts to report strong peer support for good grades (see Figure SD 1.2.A). For example, in 1995, 40 percent of white and 67 percent of black 12th graders reported that their peers believed that good grades were of great or very great importance.
 

Figure SD 1.2.A  
Percentage of 12th Grade Students Reporting that Good Grades Have Great or Very Great Importance to Peers, by Race, Selected Years, 1980-1995 

SD1_2A.GIF

Source: Bachman, J. G., Johnston, L. D., O Malley, P. M. Monitoring the Future: Questionnaire Responses from the Nations High School Seniors 1980, Questionnaire Form 5 number E06D. Bachman, J. G., Johnston, L. D. & O Malley, P. M. Monitoring the Future: Questionnaire Responses from the Nations High School Seniors 1985, 1990-1995, Questionnaire Form 3 number E06D.
 
 

Figure SD 1.2.B  
Percentage of 12th Grade Students Reporting Peer Disapproval of Intentionally Angering a Teacher in School, by Race: Selected Years, 1980-1995 

SD1_2B.GIF

Source: Bachman, J. G., Johnston, L. D., O Malley, P. M. Monitoring the Future: Questionnaire Responses from the Nations High School Seniors 1980, 1985 1990, 1991-1995 Questionnaire Form 1 number D007.
 
 

Table SD 1.2.A  
Positive Peer Influences: Percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students Reporting that Good Grades Have Great or Very Great Importance to Peers, by Gender and Race/Ethnicity: Selected Years, 1980-1995

                       
     
 
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
8th Grade
Total 
--
--
--
51
52
54
54
55
  Gender
    Male
 
--
--
--
50
50
54
52
52
    Female
 
--
--
--
53
53
54
55
56
  Race
    White
 
--
--
--
47
47
49
49
48
    Black
 
--
--
--
72
72
70
70
72
                       
10th Grade
Total
--
--
--
44
43
39
42
44
  Gender
 
 
Male  
--
--
--
42
42
36
39
43
 
 
Female  
--
--
--
46
44
42
45
45
 
Race 
    White  
--
--
--
38
38
35
38
39
    Black  
--
--
--
67
66
59
64
67
                       
12th Grade
Total
48
49
48
44
45
46
45
46
  Gender
    Male  
48
50
46
41
42
43
44
41
    Female  
48
48
51
47
48
48
46
50
  Race
    White  
43
43
43
37
39
40
39
40
    Black  
78
77
76
71
70
61
67
67
                       
Source: Bachman, J. G., Johnston, L. D., O Malley, P. M. "Monitoring the Future: Questionnaire Responses from the Nations High School Seniors" 1980, Questionnaire Form 5 number E06D. Bachman, J. G., Johnston, L. D. & O Malley, P. M. "Monitoring the Future: Questionnaire Responses from the Nations High School Seniors" 1985, 1990-1995, Questionnaire Form 3 number E06D. Data for 8th and 10th grades are from unpublished questionnaire responses, Form 1. Data for 8th and 10th grade students based on one of two questionnaire forms with a resulting sample size one-half of the total sample size for each grade in each year. Data for 12th grade students based on one of six questionnaire forms with a resulting sample size one-sixth of the total sample size for each year.

 
 

Table SD 1.2.B 
Positive Peer Influences: Percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Students Reporting Peer Disapproval of Intentionally Angering a Teacher in School, by Gender and Race/Ethnicity: Selected Years, 1980-1995

                       
       
1980
1985
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
       
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                       
8th Grade
Total
--
--
--
26
24
24
21
22
  Gender
    Male  
--
--
--
22
20
20
18
19
  Female 
--
--
--
30
27
26
23
24
  Race
    White  
--
--
--
26
24
24
22
22
    Black  
--
--
--
23
24
23
22
22
                       
10th Grade
Total
--
--
--
26
24
24
26
24
  Gender
    Male  
--
--
--
21
19
19
22
21
  Female 
--
--
--
31
28
28
30
28
  Race
    White  
--
--
--
27
25
25
26
25
    Black  
--
--
--
22
21
20
23
19
                       
12th Grade
Total
41
42
33
33
34
34
33
36
  Gender
    Male  
37
35
29
31
28
30
25
32
  Female
46
48
38
37
39
37
40
41
  Race
    White  
44
43
35
34
35
34
34
36
    Black  
29
33
30
29
30
27
25
33
                       
Source: Bachman, J. G., Johnston, L. D., O Malley, P. M. "Monitoring the Future: Questionnaire Responses from the Nations High School Seniors" 1980, 1985 1990, 1991-1995 Questionnaire Form 1 number D007. Data for 8th and 10th grades are from unpublished questionnaire responses, Form 1. Data for 8th and 10th grade students based on one of two questionnaire forms with a resulting sample size one-half of the total sample size for each grade in each year. Data for 12th grade students based on one of six questionnaire forms with a resulting sample size one-sixth of the total sample size for each year.

 

1 Hayes, C.D. Risking the Future, p. 105; S.F. Newcomer, M. Gilbert, and J.R. Udry, "Perceived and Actual Same-Sex Behavior as Determinants of Adolescent Sexual Behavior," paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association, Montreal, Canada 1980. Cited in Beyond Rhetoric: A New American Agenda for Children and Families, Final Report of the National Commission on Children, page 351. Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO.

2 Hayes, C.D. Risking the Future, p. 105; G. Cvetkovitch and B. Grote, "Psychological Development and the Social Problem of Teenage Illegitimacy," in Adolescent Pregnancy and Childbearing: Findings from Research, C. Chilman, ed. (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1980). Cited in Beyond Rhetoric: A New American Agenda for Children and Families, Final Report of the National Commission on Children, page 351. Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO.
 

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