The current study compares estimates of peer influence from an analytic approach that explicitly address network processes with those from traditional approaches that do not. Using longitudinal network data from the PROmoting School–community–university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience peers project, we obtain estimates of social influence on multiple outcomes from both conventional linear modeling approaches and the stochastic actor–based modeling approach of the simulation investigation for empirical network analysis (SIENA) software. Our findings indicate that peer influence estimates from SIENA are not more conservative relative to other methods, that each method is subject to omitted variable bias from stable individual differences, and that imprecision among each method could lead to erroneous conclusions in samples that lack sufficient power. Together, these results underscore the difficulty in obtaining estimates of peer influence from observational data, and they give no indication that results from conventional methods tend to be biased toward overestimating peer influence, relative to SIENA.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science