The Role of Social Position Within Peer Groups in Distress-Motivated Smoking Among Adolescents.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


The relationship between smoking and adolescents' peer relationships is complex, with studies showing increased risk of smoking for adolescents of both very high and very low social position. A key question is whether the impact of social position on smoking depends on an adolescent's level of coping motives (i.e., their desire to use smoking to mitigate negative affect).


We assessed how social position predicts nicotine dependence in a longitudinal sample (N = 3,717; 44.8% male; mean age = 13.41 years) of adolescent lifetime smokers measured between 6th and 12th grades. Using both social network analysis and multilevel modeling, we assessed this question at the between-person and within-person level, hypothesizing that within-person decreases in social position would lead to increased risk of nicotine dependence among those with high levels of coping motives.


In contrast to our hypotheses, only interactions with the between-person measures of social position were found, with a slight negative relationship at low levels of coping motives. In addition, the main effect of coping motives was considerably stronger than that of social position at the between-person level, and social position had no significant within-person main effect on nicotine dependence risk.


These results suggest that adolescents with higher overall levels of social position among their peers may have slightly decreased risk for nicotine dependence, but only when coping motives are low. Counter to expectations, higher levels of nicotine dependence risk were not linked to fluctuations in social position.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cole, VT; Hussong, AM; McNeish, DM; Ennett, ST; Rothenberg, AW; Gottfredson, NC; Faris, RW

Published Date

  • May 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 83 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 420 - 429

PubMed ID

  • 35590183

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9134997

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-4114

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1937-1888


  • eng