Malacarne, Timothy (2019). The Popular Kids Don't Matter: Centrality and Influence on Adolescent Behavior. Sociological Inquiry.
This study examines the widely held belief that socially central individuals are disproportionately influential in their networks. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, it models the association between four behavioral outcomes and two distinct specifications of the behaviors' relationship to network prominence. This study finds little evidence that sociometrically central individuals are more influential than randomly chosen peers from the same network when predicting drinking, smoking, and sports participation. Students resemble their peers in systematic ways, but it is unlikely that this is because central students serve as a reference for the group or because students adjust their actions based on the social rewards that they observe given their position in a social network.
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