The Influence of Peers During Adolescence: Does Homophobic Name Calling by Peers Change Gender Identity?
Adolescents actively evaluate their identities during adolescence, and one of the most salient and central identities for youth concerns their gender identity. Experiences with peers may inform gender identity. Unfortunately, many youth experience homophobic name calling, a form of peer victimization, and it is unknown whether youth internalize these peer messages and how these messages might influence gender identity. The goal of the present study was to assess the role of homophobic name calling on changes over the course of an academic year in adolescents’ gender identity. Specifically, this study extends the literature using a new conceptualization and measure of gender identity that involves assessing how similar adolescents feel to both their own- and other-gender peers and, by employing longitudinal social network analyses, provides a rigorous analytic assessment of the impact of homophobic name calling on changes in these two dimensions of gender identity. Symbolic interaction perspectives—the “looking glass self”—suggest that peer feedback is incorporated into the self-concept. The current study tests this hypothesis by determining if adolescents respond to homophobic name calling by revising their self-view, specifically, how the self is viewed in relation to both gender groups. Participants were 299 6th grade students (53% female). Participants reported peer relationships, experiences of homophobic name calling, and gender identity (i.e., similarity to own- and other-gender peers). Longitudinal social network analyses revealed that homophobic name calling early in the school year predicted changes in gender identity over time. The results support the “looking glass self” hypothesis: experiencing homophobic name calling predicted identifying significantly less with own-gender peers and marginally more with other-gender peers over the course of an academic year. The effects held after controlling for participant characteristics (e.g., gender), social network features (e.g., norms), and peer experiences (e.g., friend influence, general victimization). Homophobic name calling emerged as a form of peer influence that changed early adolescent gender identity, such that adolescents in this study appear to have internalized the messages they received from peers and incorporated these messages into their personal views of their own gender identity.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10964-017-0749-6
Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.
Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.