Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Leslie Echols


Adolescent youth are similar to their friends in both personal attributes, such as gender and ethnicity, and exhibited behaviors. However, limited research has analyzed the role of peer influence on physical and mental health symptoms. The current study aimed to address this gap in the literature by investigating the association between friendships and individual health symptoms. A linear network autocorrelation model was used to examine the relation between adolescent friendships, physical health, and mental health symptoms in a sample of 336 seventh grade students from a Midwestern, public middle school. Results from the current study indicate a peer influence effect on physical health symptoms, such that youth are similar to their friends in terms of physical health. There was a negative peer influence effect on mental health symptoms suggesting that youth may be less similar to their friends in terms of mental health. However, this effect was only true for female friends. The findings support a peer influence effect on adolescent health and well-being. Implications of these results are presented in further detail.


peer influence, adolescence, friendship network, physical health, mental health

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology


© Ashley N. Hall

Available for download on Thursday, May 01, 2025

Open Access