Middle School Mindset

Apr 30, 2013

There’s intriguing news from the University of Virginia’s department of psychology.  Scholars there say the quality of a kid’s friendships in middle school is a great predictor of his or her future health and success. 

If you think back to your days in junior high - when you were 13 or 14 - did you have good friends?

Did you sometimes stand up to peer pressure, or did you always go along to get along? 

The answers to those questions could predict your success in later life, according to Joseph Allen, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia.

“Connecting well with others predicted connecting well with adults-not just with your close friends.  It predicted how well you  handled disagreements in your romantic relationships.  We found that following other people, not going your own way predicted getting into trouble more as an adult, but we also found that going your own way too much made it more difficult to have strong close friendship.”

Allen says kids walk a tightrope between making friends and being swept away by peer pressure.  He bases those claims on a study of 184 students at a diverse middle school in Charlottesville.

And preliminary data suggests how well you function as a young teen could influence your future health - how well you sleep, whether you have high blood pressure or a strong immune system.

Allen’s research was published in the journal Child Development, and his team continues to follow the fates of study subjects who are now in their late twenties.