# Popularity, Social Acceptance, and Aggression in Adolescent Peer Groups: Links With Academic Performance and School Attendance

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5 1120 SCHWARTZ, GORMAN, NAKAMOTO, AND MCKAY Table 1 Means, Standard Deviations, and t tests for Boys and Girls for All Variables Boys Girls Variable M SD M SD t(340) Time 1 Popularity a Social acceptance a Aggression b GPA c ** Unexplained absences d Time 2 Popularity a * Social acceptance a Aggression b GPA c * Unexplained absences d Time 3 Popularity a Social acceptance a Aggression b GPA c * Unexplained absences d Time 4 Popularity a Social acceptance a Aggression b GPA c Unexplained absences d a The popularity and social acceptance scores are the average ratings on a 5-point scale. b The aggression scores represent the average of individual students proportion scores on the two aggression items. We calculated proportion scores by dividing the number of nominations each student received on a particular item by the number of students who indicated that they knew the participant. c The grade point average (GPA) score was calculated on a 4.0 scale. d The unexplained absences score is the average number of days missed during the semester. * p.05. ** p.01. Means, standard deviations, and stability estimates (i.e., T1 T4 correlations) for all variables are depicted in Table 2. As shown, the stability of each of the constructs was high. However, it is important to emphasize that within-individual change can still be meaningful even when between-individuals differences remain relatively stable over time (Wohlwill, 1973). Correlations among all variables are presented in Table 3. There were significant first-order correlations between popularity and Table 2 Means, Standard Deviations, and the Correlation Between Time 1 and Time 4 for All Variables for the Entire Sample at the Four Time Points Time 1 Time 2 Time 3 Time 4 Variable M SD M SD M SD M SD Time 1 Time 4 r Popularity a *** Social acceptance a *** Aggression b *** GPA c *** Unexplained absences d *** a The popularity and social acceptance scores are the average ratings on a 5-point scale. b The aggression scores represent the average of individual students proportion scores on the two aggression items. We calculated proportion scores by dividing the number of nominations each student received on a particular item by the number of students who indicated that they knew the participant. c The grade point average (GPA) score was calculated on a 4.0 scale. d The unexplained absences score is the average number of days missed during the semester. *** p.001.

6 POPULARITY AND SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE 1121 Table 3 Correlations Between Popularity and Social Acceptance, and Aggression and the Academic Functioning Indices Variable Aggression a GPA b absences c Unexplained Time 1 Popularity d.21*** Popularity with social acceptance partialled d.40*** Social acceptance d.14* Social acceptance with popularity partialled d.37*** Time 2 Popularity d.13* Popularity with social acceptance partialled d.37***.13*.12* Social acceptance d.21***.12*.09 Social acceptance with popularity partialled d.40***.17**.15** Time 3 Popularity d * Popularity with social acceptance partialled d.34***.20**.23*** Social acceptance d.32***.11*.09 Social acceptance with popularity partialled d.46***.21***.22*** Time 4 Popularity d ** Popularity with social acceptance partialled d.33***.09.26*** Social acceptance d.28*** Social acceptance with popularity partialled d.43***.14*.23*** a The aggression scores represent the average of individual students proportion scores on the two aggression items. We calculated proportion scores by dividing the number of nominations each student received on a particular item by the number of students who indicated that they knew the participant. b The grade point average (GPA) score was calculated on a 4.0 scale. c The unexplained absences score is the average number of days missed during the semester. d The popularity and social acceptance scores are the average ratings on a 5-point scale. * p.05. ** p.01. *** p.001. aggression at two of the time points and significant semipartial correlations between popularity and aggression (with acceptance controlled) at all four time points. In contrast, social acceptance was negatively correlated with aggression across waves. The effect sizes for these associations ranged from small to medium (Cohen, 1988). We did not find a strong pattern of first-order correlations between the social standing indices and the academic functioning variables. However, with the variance from social acceptance controlled, popularity was positively correlated with unexplained absences at each of the final three time points and negatively correlated with GPA at T2 and T3. In turn, with the variance from popularity controlled, social acceptance was negatively correlated with unexplained absences and positively correlated with GPA at each of the final three data collection points. The effect size for each of these correlations was small. Aggression as a Moderator of the Relation Between Social Standing and GPA As a first step in our inferential analyses, we examined the moderating role of aggression in the prediction of GPA from popularity and social acceptance (see Table 4). To provide a baseline for evaluation of our theory-driven model (as per Singer & Willett, 2003), we began by specifying an unconditional means model (Model 1) and an unconditional growth model (Model 2). The unconditional means model did not include any predictor variables (implying a flat trajectory for GPA), and the unconditional growth model included time as the only predictor variable (implying change in GPA that is not accounted for by substantive predictors). We then specified our full model (Model 3) predicting changes in GPA from time, changes in popularity, changes in aggression, and changes in social acceptance. This model also included interaction effects for Changes in Popularity Changes in Aggression and for Changes in Acceptance Changes in Aggression. Fit statistics and parameter estimates for the models are summarized in Table 4. Comparison of the deviance statistics for the three models revealed a significant difference in the fit of the unconditional growth model and unconditional means model. Further comparisons also revealed differences in the fit of the full model and the fit of the unconditional growth and unconditional means models. Taken together, these findings indicate that the social standing and aggression variables made significant contributions to model fit. In the full model, there were significant negative effects for time and changes in aggression. Thus, there were modest within-subject declines in GPA over the waves of data collection. Moreover, increases in aggression were associated with decreases in GPA. In addition to the described main effects, there was a significant interaction between changes in popularity and changes in aggression. To decompose this later effect, we used procedures recommended by Aiken and West (1991). We specified models predicting changes in GPA from changes in popularity with changes in aggression fixed at low (1 standard deviation below the mean),

7 1122 SCHWARTZ, GORMAN, NAKAMOTO, AND MCKAY Table 4 Estimates of Fixed Effects, Variance Components, and Fit Indices From the Individual Growth Models in Which Several Variables Predict the Changes in Adolescents Grades Variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Fixed effects Main effects Time (0.0010)*** (0.0010)*** (0.0010)** Popularity a (0.0043) (0.0043) Social acceptance a (0.0047) (0.0046) Aggression b (0.0204)** Friends aggression c (0.0348)*** Interaction terms Popularity a Aggression b (0.0302)** Social Acceptance a Aggression b (0.0443) Popularity a Friend s Aggression c (0.0619) Social Acceptance a Friends Aggression c (0.0897) Variance components Level 1 Within-person (0.0001)*** (0.0001)*** (0.0001)*** (0.0000)*** Level 2 In initial status (0.0004)*** (0.0004)*** (0.0004)*** (0.0004)*** In rate of change (0.0000)*** (0.0000)*** (0.0000)*** Covariance (0.0001) (0.0001) (0.0001) Fit indexes Goodness of fit Deviance AIC BIC Model comparison deviance Model *** 79.4*** 23.5*** deviance Model *** 77.5*** Note. Model 1 is the unconditional means model. Model 2 is the unconditional growth model. Model 3 includes the main effects of popularity, social acceptance, and aggression as well as the Popularity Aggression and Social Acceptance Aggression interaction terms. Model 4 includes the main effects of popularity, social acceptance, and friends aggression as well as the Popularity Friends Aggression and Social Acceptance Friends Aggression interaction terms. Values in parentheses are the standard errors. Deviance 2 log likelihood; AIC Akaike s information criterion; BIC Bayesian information criterion; deviance Model 1 deviance of Model 1 deviance of current model; deviance Model 2 deviance of Model 2 deviance of current model. a The popularity and social acceptance scores are changes in the average ratings on a 5-point scale. b The aggression scores represent changes in the average of individual students proportion scores on the two aggression items. We calculated proportion scores by dividing the number of nominations each student received on a particular item by the number of students who indicated that they knew the participant. c The friends aggression scores represent changes in the mean level of aggression across each participant s friends. ** p.01. *** p.001. medium (mean), and high (1 standard deviation above the mean) levels. Changes in social acceptance were entered as a covariate in each of these models. For high changes in aggression, there was a negative association between changes in popularity and changes in GPA (B 0.02, p.05). The effects were nonsignificant for medium changes in aggression (B 0.00) and for low changes in aggression (B 0.01). Consistent with our hypotheses, increases in popularity were associated with declines in GPA for students who were also experiencing increases in aggression. Friends Aggression as a Moderator of the Relation Between Social Standing and GPA Next, we examined the moderating role of friends aggression in the prediction of GPA. For these analyses, we calculated the mean level of aggression across each participant s friends at each data collection point (for similar analytic approaches, see Criss, Pettit, Bates, Dodge, & Lapp, 2002; Vitaro et al., 2005). We then specified a model predicting changes in GPA from changes in friends aggression, changes in popularity, changes in social acceptance, Changes in Popularity Changes in Friends Aggression, and Changes in Social Acceptance Changes in Friends Aggression (Model 4). As Table 4 depicts, the fit of this model was poor. Comparison of the deviance statistics indicated that fit was better for the unconditional means and unconditional growth models than for the full model. Moreover, the specified interaction terms failed to reach significance. Overall, the findings do not provide any support for the hypothesized moderating role of aggression levels among friends.

8 POPULARITY AND SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE 1123 Aggression as a Moderator of the Relation Between Social Standing and Unexplained Absences We used a similar analytic strategy to investigate the moderating role of aggression in the prediction of unexplained absences (see Table 5). First, we specified an unconditional means model (Model 1) and an unconditional growth model (Model 2). We then specified a model predicting changes in unexplained absences from time, changes in social acceptance, changes in popularity, and changes in aggression (Model 3). This model also included interaction terms for Changes in Social Acceptance Changes in Aggression and for Changes in Popularity Changes in Aggression. Fit indices and parameter estimates for the models are summarized in Table 5. As depicted, the difference in deviance statistics for the unconditional growth model and the unconditional means model was significant. In addition, the full model had a significantly better fit than the unconditional means and unconditional growth models. In the full model, there were significant positive effects for time, changes in aggression, and changes in popularity. That is, there were within-subject increases in the total number of unexplained absences from T1 to T4, and increases in aggression and popularity were associated with increases in unexplained absences. The significant main effect findings were accompanied by an interaction between changes in popularity and changes in aggression. To decompose this effect, we specified models predicting changes in unexplained absences from changes in popularity with changes in aggression fixed at low, medium, and high. The association between changes in popularity and changes in unexplained absences increased in magnitude as changes in aggression moved from low (B 0.02, ns) to medium (B 0.06, p.01) to high (B 0.10, p 0.001). Table 5 Estimates of Fixed Effects, Variance Components, and Fit Indices From the Individual Growth Models in Which Several Variables Predict the Changes in Adolescents Unexplained Absences Variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Fixed effects Main effects Time (0.0069)*** (0.0069)*** (0.0067)*** Popularity a (0.0247)* (0.0244)* Social acceptance a (0.0315) (0.0300)* Aggression b (0.1287)*** Friends aggression c (0.2276)** Interaction terms Popularity a Aggression b (0.1900)** Social Acceptance a Aggression b (0.2922) Popularity a Friends Aggression c (0.4081) Social Acceptance a Friends Aggression c (0.5950) Variance components Level 1 Within-person (0.0029)*** (0.0028)*** (0.0029)*** (0.0027)*** Level 2 In initial status (0.0079)*** (0.0088)*** (0.0082)*** (0.0082)*** In rate of change (0.0014)*** (0.0014)*** (0.0013)*** Covariance (0.0027) (0.0027) (0.0026) Fit indexes Goodness of fit Deviance AIC BIC Model comparison deviance Model *** 146.5*** 269.7*** deviance Model *** 156.7*** Note. Model 1 is the unconditional means model. Model 2 is the unconditional growth model. Model 3 includes the main effects of popularity, social acceptance, and aggression as well as the Popularity Aggression and Social Acceptance Aggression interaction terms. Model 4 includes the main effects of popularity, social acceptance, and friends aggression as well as the Popularity Friends Aggression and Social Acceptance Friends Aggression interaction terms. Values in parentheses are the standard errors. Deviance 2 log likelihood; AIC Akaike s information criterion; BIC Bayesian information criterion; deviance Model 1 deviance of Model 1 deviance of current model; deviance Model 2 deviance of Model 2 deviance of current model. a The popularity and social acceptance scores are changes in the average ratings on a 5-point scale. b The aggression scores represent changes in the average of individual students proportion scores on the two aggression items. We calculated proportion scores by dividing the number of nominations each student received on a particular item by the number of students who indicated that they knew the participant. c The friends aggression scores represent changes in the mean level of aggression across each participant s friends. * p.05. ** p.01. *** p.001.

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