On the Operational Validity of Perceptual Peer Delinquency Measurement: Exploring Projection and Elements Contained in Perceptions.
Objectives. The authors examine perceptions of a peer’s substance use to determine whether and to what degree individuals project their own behavior onto their perceptions of peer’s delinquency, and to determine whether the constructs of self-control and peer attachment are related to perceptions. Methods. Using a sample of 2,154 young adult respondents within friendship pairs in which each respondent reported their own substance use and their perception of the friend’s use, the authors estimate a series of regression models with perceptions of a peer’s alcohol, marijuana, Salvia divinorum, and hard drug use as dependent variables. Results. Perceptions of a peer’s substance use are approximately equally related to a peer’s and a respondent’s use of each substance. Projection occurs to a greater extent when perceiving low-frequency behaviors. Low self-control is sporadically associated with higher perceived substance use. Conclusions. Peer self-reported delinquency and perceptions of peer delinquency are distinct constructs. Because projection appears to be worse for infrequent behaviors, researchers should use caution when using low-frequency behaviors to measure perceptual peer delinquency. Although the data used are cross sectional, the perceptual measure is confounded by too many variables other than a peer’s actual delinquency to be considered a valid measure of the sole construct of peer delinquency.
John H. Boman IV, John M. Stogner, Bryan Lee Miller, O. Hayden Griffin III, and Marvin D. Krohn. "On the Operational Validity of Perceptual Peer Delinquency Measurement: Exploring Projection and Elements Contained in Perceptions." Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 49.4 (2012): 601-621.doi: 10.1177/0022427811419367