Peers Influence Response to Threat: Cultural Norms, Reciprocity & Identity Processes in the Adolescent Caregiving System, Idaho and Washington, 2014-2017 (ICPSR 37642)

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Karin Frey, University of Washington

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Two years of school observations and interviews with parents, educators, and adolescents led to the creation of an application to investigate how adolescents respond when peers are threatened, and how those actions relate to cultural norms, identity and victim well-being. The resulting project attempted to address questions raised by community members and by developmental theories of caregiving and bystander intervention. Surveys and in-depth interviews were conducted with 300 7th to 12th grade adolescents, evenly divided between African American, European American, Mexican American and Native American. Five research studies are published or submitted for publication.

The first study describes the specific bystander actions that victims identified as moderating or amplifying their negative emotions. The second study shows that victims experienced greater emotional well-being and social connection after bystanders calmed their emotions and helped resolve conflicts, than when bystander amplified victim anger or took revenge on behalf of the victim. The bystander perspective on those four actions is the topic of the third and fourth studies. Bystanders felt more pride, less guilt and shame, and more like a good friend when they calmed and resolved than when they amplified and avenged. Third-party resolution was followed by strong feelings of competence, while third-party revenge was often followed by feelings that actions were inconsistent with values and one's "true self." Study 5 developed a measure of adolescent honor, dignity and face norm endorsement. It shows the predicted associations with threat response and self-evaluation of responses. Implications of the results for educational practice are discussed.

Frey, Karin. Peers Influence Response to Threat: Cultural Norms, Reciprocity & Identity Processes in the Adolescent Caregiving System, Idaho and Washington, 2014-2017. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2023-12-14.

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2015-CK-BX-0022)


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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

2014 -- 2017
2016 -- 2017
  1. Dataset 2 includes a zipped package available with restricted access that contains 5 SPSS datasets. The data are distributed as they were received from the data producer and have not been checked or processed. Users should refer to the accompanying ICPSR README file for a brief description of the files available in this zipped package and consult with the investigator(s) if further information is needed.


The purposes of this study were to:

  1. Test a culturally-informed theoretical model of peer helping, reciprocity and influence;
  2. Develop reliable and valid measures of honor and dignity norms;
  3. Obtain youth views on effective nonviolent responses to peer victimization;
  4. Develop cultural competency units for student programs and professional development workshops.

Interviews ranged from 45-90 minutes long. The interview was developed based on narrative and recursive theories of identity formation and two years of ethnographic observations and conversations with adults and students in rural, urban and suburban regions of Washington and Idaho, including tribal lands in each state.

This preliminary work was completed prior to applying for funding. Researchers selected four types of bystander actions for investigation. Two describe actions that influence victim emotions--calming and amplifying. Two describe actions likely to shape future interactions between the aggressor and victim--bystander revenge and peaceful efforts to resolve and stop the aggression.

To help participants think about different types of aggression that they may have experienced, they first completed the California Victimization Survey. Using a repeated measures design, participants were then asked to describe and evaluate four bystander actions that they had taken and to also describe four actions taken by bystanders when the participants had themselves been victims of aggression. A ninth, comparison condition asked participants about past retaliation they had taken on their own behalf. Remembering activates the same brain regions as the original experience did contributing to ecological validity.

Participants' examples were typical of those involving middle and high school students and ranged in severity from slights to events that threatened bodily harm and/or were frightening. Youth often cited sport events as venues that elicited aggression.

This project administered surveys and conducted in-depth interviews with African American, European American, Mexican American, and Native American youth. Researchers interviewed at the end of the school or during summer to enable youth to reflect on an entire school year of events. The youngest participants had completed seventh grade. The oldest could be completing twelfth grade. Two sets of piloting testing, first with ten, and then with 52 youth, were used to refine the interview protocol and estimate statistical power and the necessary sample size. The goal was 256 interviews, 64 with boys and girls of four ethnicities: African-, European-, Mexican-, and Native-American. Because youth occasionally declined to provide an example for one of the conditions, the study oversampled (n=300) to preserve study power. The final sample sizes vary by study and conditions examined.

In all studies, participation by youth of each ethnicity was approximately equal. In addition to institutional review, a research permit was obtained from tribal authorities when appropriate. Researchers obtained permission from the participants' parents and assent from participants.


Male and female adolescents in the Pacific NW, USA who were African American, European American, Mexican American or Native American of Columbian Plateau ancestry, between the years of 2014 - 2017.


Not available.

  • Anger suppression
  • Empathic anger
  • School effort
  • Teacher support
  • Peer support
  • Expected peer academic achievement
  • Grades
  • Victimization rates
  • Victimization of close others--rate
  • Revenge for victimization (self and close others)
  • Non-aggressive resolution for victimization (self and close others)
  • Honor, face and dignity cultural norms
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    2023-12-14 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

    • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

    Not applicable.



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