Deviant peer affiliation

Scale: Peer Affiliation and Social Acceptance (PASA) Measure — Peer Affiliation subscale

What it measures:

  • Deviant peer affiliations.

Intended age range: 12- to 13-year-olds; appears to be most appropriate for young adolescent/middle-school-age populations.

Brief description: The Peer Affiliation scale consists of 4 items. Sample items include: “Percent of friends who misbehave or break rules” and “Percent of friends who experiment with smoking and drugs.” Youth respond on a 5-point scale: Very Few (less than 25%), Some (around 25%), About half (50%), Most (around 75%), or Almost All (more than 75%).

Rationale: This measure was selected based on its brevity, evidence of reliability and validity across males and females and ethnically diverse early adolescents. Additionally, the measure contains well-defined response choices and includes a positive peer affiliation item (i.e., "Percent of friends who are well-behaved in school").

Cautions: One item on the scale, which asks about the percentage of peers who dress or act like gang members, may be less appropriate for some youth and programs. It is anticipated that the scale would retain its validity and still have adequate reliability with this item removed if doing so would be appropriate based on the age and backgrounds of youth served by a program. Also, because youth may not report deviant peer affiliations accurately, when possible, programs, may want to obtain ratings from multiple informants (e.g., parent or teacher ratings) or combine self-report with direct observation.

Special administration information: None.

How to score: Each item is scored from 1 (Very few - less than 25%)  to 5 (Almost all-more than 75%), with the exception of one reverse-coded item (i.e., "Percentage of friends who are well-behaved in school"). The total score is computed by averaging across all items.

How to interpret findings: Higher scores indicate greater deviant peer affiliations.

Access and permissions: The scale is available for non-commercial use with no charge and can be obtained by contacting Dr. Thomas J. Dishion (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). A ready-to-use version of the items in this measure is provided here.

Alternatives: None recommended.

Citation: Dishion, T. J., Kim, H., Stormshak, E. A., & O’Neill, M. (2014). A brief measure of peer affiliation and social acceptance (PASA): Validity in an ethnically diverse sample of early adolescent. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 43, 601–612.

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