Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 September 2019
Values—the motivational goals that define what is important to us—guide our decisions and actions every day. Their importance is established in a long line of research investigating their universality across countries and their evolution from childhood to adulthood. In adolescence, value structures are subject to substantial change, as life becomes increasingly social. Value change has thus far been understood to operate independently within each person. However, being embedded in various social systems, adolescents are constantly subject to social influence from peers. Thus, we introduce a framework investigating the emergence and evolution of value priorities in the dynamic context of friendship networks. Drawing on stochastic actor-oriented network models, we analyze 73 friendship networks of adolescents. Regarding the evolution of values, we find that adolescents’ value systems evolve in a continuous cycle of internal validation through the selection and enactment of goals—thereby experiencing both congruence and conflicts—and external validation through social comparison among their friends. Regarding the evolution of friendship networks, we find that demographics are more salient for the initiation of new friendships, whereas values are more relevant for the maintenance of existing friendships.