Peers often act as agents of informal social control and influence each other both away from deviance and toward positive, prosocial behaviors. Criminology research has neglected studying positive peer influence, a potentially powerful source of social control that may help the field understand the causes of deviance. Criminologists have been unsuccessful in studying the actual mechanisms of both positive and negative peer influence. In Causes of Delinquency Revisited, Costello and Hope take a first step toward uncovering these mechanisms, drawing on quantitative and qualitative data collected from two convenience samples of university students. Their quantitative analyses shows that positive peer influence occurs most frequently among those who associate with the most deviant peers and self-report the most deviance. Their qualitative data reveal a variety of mechanisms for negative influence, including a previously undiscovered motivation encouraging a peer toward deviance for the entertainment of group members.
Written in clear, engaging language and illustrated with students' self-reported experiences of peer pressure, this book addresses criminologists and sociologists, and can be used as a text for graduate students and undergraduates. Costello and Hope aim to spur a new research agenda in the field of criminology, one that recognizes the potentially powerful impact of positive peer pressure, and seriously questions prevailing assumptions.