Why don’t you like me? A Longitudinal Study of the Development of Antipathy in Early Adolescence

Journal of Research on Adolescence: Special Issue on Network and Behavioral Dynamics in Adolescence: DOI: 10.1111/jora.12048

Submitted to SRA by Anne Perdue on Fri, 11/08/2013 – 16:41

By Margarita AzmitiaWhy don't you like me? A Longitudinal Study of the Development of Antipathy in Early Adolescence - The Chronicles of Evidence-Based Mentoring

Considerable theory and research has addressed friendships, romantic, and bully-victim relationships in adolescence. Although they are common in adolescents’ experiences, less attention has been paid to antipathy relationships—relations of dislike. In this longitudinal study, Berger and Dijkstra (2013) used a social network perspective to assess how popularity influences early adolescents’ antipathies. They tested three sources of antipathy: competition between

  • peers with similar status or,

in the case of peers with

  • dissimilar status,
  • lower status peers rejecting higher status peers (envy) or
  • higher status peers rejecting lower status peers (snobbism).

If friends influence each other’s perception of peers, then friendship networks should share antipathies and the degree of shared antipathies should increase over time.

The researchers surveyed 273 fifth and sixth graders (52% boys) in Santiago, Chile during the middle of the academic year (Wave 1) and one year later (Wave 2). Participants nominated up to six

  1. classmates they disliked,
  2. best friends, and
  3. popular and unpopular children.

On average, in Wave 1 participants’ nominated 2.28 disliked classmates and 2.53 friends; in Wave 2 they nominated 3.31 disliked classmates and 2.90 friends. The results supported the snobbism hypothesis, i.e., antipathies reflect popular peers’ rejection of less popular peers. Possibly, these types of antipathies occur because popular adolescents can be more selective in their friendships.

As predicted, antipathies spread through friendship networks; adolescents who were disliked by a large number of their peers increased in the number of dislike nominations one year later. Friends may influence each other’s dislike of peers through discussion, highlighting the processes of selectivity and mutual influence in friendship and antipathy relationships.