Friendship Network and Wellbeing Dynamics: Exploring the Role of Selection, Influence, and Cross-Race Connections Among Emerging Adult Marching Band Members

DaSean Young

Advisor: Thalia R Goldstein, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Olga Kornienko, Leah Adams

Online Location, Online Location
April 28, 2023, 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM


Emerging adulthood is a developmental period in which young people are beginning to develop themselves and their identity. The emerging adulthood literature has discredited the importance of peers in the development of emerging adults. However, a small amount of empirical studies with emerging adults has found evidence to suggest their outcomes are significantly related to their relationships with their friends. It is currently unclear the full extent to which friends are related to the development of emerging adults’ well-being, specifically their self-efficacy and belonging. Additionally, there is little empirical work assessing the role of cross-race friends in emerging adulthood. Guided by intergroup contact theory, we hypothesize that friends generally and cross-race friendships specifically are significant in the development of emerging adults and their well-being. A total of 367 (Mage T1 = 19.40, Mage T2 = 19.64) participants from a collegiate marching band in the south United States completed at least one timepoint of a two timepoint longitudinal study. At both timepoints, we measured their friendship network, domain-specific self-efficacy, general self-efficacy, their feelings of belongingness to the marching band, and their feelings of belongingness to the school. Using stochastic actor-oriented modeling (SAOM), we assessed demographic and marching experiences’ relationship to the creation of friendships, the role of well-being in the selection of friendships, as well as the role of friendships in influencing well-being. Also, using SAOM, we conducted exploratory analyses regarding the role of race in the selection of friends and the role of cross-race friendships in influencing well-being. Results suggest that the marching arts participants in this study do not show a significant racial bias toward making same-race friends. Additionally, results suggest ones’ experience in the marching arts is significantly related to their selection of friends. Last, results suggest domain-specific and domain-general well-being are differentially related to the creation of friendships within the band. While our findings regarding peer influence in the development of well-being and the role of cross-race friends were unclear, our findings regarding peer selection provide evidence that contextualizes emerging adults’ interest in peers as well as the role of well-being in their engagement with peers.