CitationCopeland, Molly; Kamis, Christina; & Varela, Gabriel (2023). Pathways from peers to mental health: Adolescent networks, role attainment, and adult depressive symptoms. Social Science & Medicine.
AbstractBoth adolescent peer networks and adult role attainment affect mental health in adulthood. However, whether adult roles mediate associations between adolescent networks and adult mental health is unclear. Using path analysis with survey data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 8543) in the United States, we examine the direct impact of adolescent (grades 7–12) popularity (received ties) and sociality (sent ties) among school peers on adult (ages 33–43) depressive symptoms, and we assess mediation pathways through four key adult roles: marriage, employment, education, and residential independence. We then examine whether pathways differ across men and women. Results indicate that adolescent popularity, or how others view an adolescent's position in the peer network, benefits adult mental health through the attainment of marriage, employment, and education. Residential independence is a significant mediator for popularity in models for men. Sociality, or how an adolescent views their own position in the peer network, relates to adult depressive symptoms through the attainment of a college degree for women and marriage for men. Sociality also directly predicts lower depressive levels, independent of adult role attainment, in models for women. Overall, results indicate gendered pathways for how adolescent networks relate to mental health decades later through adult roles.
Reference TypeJournal Article
Journal TitleSocial Science & Medicine