What Adolescents Do or Say to Actively Influence Peers: Compliance-Gaining Tactics and Adolescent Deviance

Evelien M. Hoeben*, Maartje A. Ten Cate, Frank M. Weerman, Jean Marie McGloin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: Despite abundant evidence of deviant peer influence, it remains unclear precisely how adolescents try to exert such influence. What do adolescents do or say to actively encourage or discourage deviance among their peers? The aim of the current study is to explore the different ways in which adolescents talk each other into—or out of—such behaviors. Methods: We analyzed narratives about delinquency (N = 37), substance use (N = 131), and other deviance (N = 107), which were written by adolescents (ages 14–18) in secondary schools. The study combines criminological perspectives on situational group processes (i.e., instigation, reinforcement, and provocation) with insights on compliance-gaining from other disciplines to inform a qualitative investigation of key influence tactics. Results: Our results demonstrate that adolescents use a number of tactics to encourage and discourage deviance. Many of these same tactics are used to promote prosocial behavior, though provocation-like tactics are largely used to encourage deviance. Conclusions: The range of reported compliance tactics extends well beyond what is captured in typical studies of peer influence, largely revolving around the broader themes of instigation and attempts to impact the anticipated risks, costs, and rewards of behavior. Ultimately, this study underscores the multi-faceted, socially interactive nature of peer influence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2024.

Research programs

  • SAI 2005-04 MSS


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