Individuals of all ages have at one point in their lives experienced peer pressure. This is due to the simple fact that all people have peers. Although peer pressure is mostly associated with the teenage and young adult years, all people at all levels in the society are susceptible to the impacts of peer pressure in our social and professional lives. Having peers in our lives is beneficial as they can help us to stay motivated, to grow and to inspire, however, having peers also means that there is a chance of experiencing peer pressure. Peer pressure thus can be defined the pressure asserted by members of an individuals peer group through encouragement or distress to adopt certain values, take certain actions, or make decisions, that one would not normally make with the expected result of conformity so as to be accepted by their peers.
Furthermore, currently, peer pressure has become a major issue in the society as the need to conform has led numerous teenagers all over the world to engage in activities that are immoral, unacceptable and at times dangerous. As a result, one of the major causes of peer pressure is the need to be recognized and accepted in a particular clique so as to be like the peers one admires and to do and have what others in the group or clique have (All Psychology Careers). This need thus leads to certain influences that make one do things that are illegal, unhealthy or immoral such as taking alcohol, smoking or engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
Closely related to the need to belong to a certain group, another cause of peer pressure is the need to gain social acceptance and avoid rejection. Individuals, more so teens, who are different from the rest of the population in terms of opinions, preferences, lifestyle or physique are at more risk of being teased and bullied by their peers. Consequently, in order to avoid such situations, individuals that are different will easily succumb to peer pressure in order to gain social recognition so as to ultimately belong to the dominant group in the society (Karakos 219). Such pressure thus leads to the influence of ones opinions, values, and preferences such that they are altered to be more in line with the opinions, values, and preferences of the dominant group.
Another cause of peer pressure is the curiosity to try new things. This influence is related to the need by individuals, more specifically teenagers, to establish and develop their unique personal identity. In the teenage years, teenagers spend less time with their parents and more with their peers, thus they differentiate themselves from their parents and become more independent through participation in peer groups. Thus, as the life under parental rule begins to clash more and more, the need to strengthen ones personal identity increases which leads to one participating in various actions and making various decisions with the aim of establishing a unique identity and grow more independent (All Psychology Careers). Incidentally, such actions and decisions are oftentimes influenced peers which can then lead to negative or positive effects.
There are various effects of peer pressure, which in most cases are negative. One of the major adverse effects of peer pressure is the decline of an individuals level of self-confidence. Peer pressure can lead a once self-confident individual to be doubtful and unsure of himself/herself which may lead to a decline in self-esteem as well as negative impacts on ones general well-being (Karakos 221). Furthermore, in the case of teenagers, peer pressure can lead to a negative impact on their academics. As stated earlier, one of the major causes of peer pressure is the need to be accepted. As such, for a teenager, the need for approval from their peers has a higher priority than their parents and teacher. As a result, other aspects of their lives such as academics are adversely affected because although a particular teenager is capable of performing well academically, such a teenager will not be able to, as they have placed more emphasis on being more acceptable to the peers as opposed to working on their academics.
Additionally, peer pressure can lead to the adoption of dangerous behaviors. In the more extreme forms of peer pressure, the propagation of such harmful habits as the use of alcohol, smoking, and drug abuse is the norm. Although most individuals are aware that such habits are unhealthy and at times illegal, most teenagers are willing to adopt such habits with complete disregard for future consequences so as to be accepted by their peers (Karakos 223). Also, the need for acceptance can make certain individuals be ashamed of themselves and their families. In the school environment, the student body is typically composed of people from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The diversity in the economic backgrounds thus forms a basis of distinction and for students that come from a poor background, they may feel ashamed of themselves and their families as they feel to be lesser individuals in the eyes of their well-off peers.
However, not all effects of peer pressure are negative, there are various positive effects related to peer pressure as well. In fact, recent studies on the effects of peer pressure are revealing that peer pressure is the most effective strategy for teens to engage in good behavior and make smart decisions in their lives (Paul). Peer pressure can help motivate teenagers to aim higher and accomplish more through healthy competition and exchange of ideas and information with their peers. Furthermore, peer pressure motivates individuals to take up positive activities and actions that their peers are engaging in as well as helping to stay away from activities that peers do not approve.
For instance, one is more likely to engage in a positive activity if ones peers are also engaging in such an activity as well. In addition, statistics from a survey conducted by the Survelum Public Data Bank reveal that peer pressure does not always have a negative influence on teens. This assertion was supported by the data as forty-nine percent of the participants stated that they did not make bad decision so as to impress their peers with only thirty-one percent stating that their actions were negatively influenced by their peers (Survelum Public Data Bank).
Another major positive effect of peer pressure is that it can be utilized to spread awareness and reach vulnerable people that may be isolated in regards to other types of communication. Information can be spread easily through peers as they speak the same language thus can easily understand each other. For instance, teenagers and young adults applying to a high school or college program can exchange information and ideas about the application process, the quality of teaching in various programs and future curriculum (Karakos 224). Furthermore, peer education programs are more effective at spreading valuable information as peers are able to educate and inform each other on destructive activities and their consequences and such messages are more internalized and personalized as they are delivered by peers thus are more likely to result to a positive change in attitudes.
Peer pressure is clearly a major issue in our society. As such, there is need to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject in order to be able to know its causes and reap more positive benefits. In regards to achieving this objective, parents and teachers alike should ensure from an early age that children are not getting mixed up with the wrong crowd as well as providing comprehensive knowledge on the adverse effects of peer pressure. As stated above, there are numerous positive effects of peer pressure, and by associating with the right peers, one can gain encouragement, motivation, valuable information and the willingness to succeed.
All Psychology Careers. Peer Pressure. 2017. Web. 25 November 2017.
Karakos, Holly. "Positive Peer Support or Negative Peer Influence? The Role of Peers among Adolescents in Recovery High Schools." Peabody Journal of Education (2014): 214-228.
Paul, Annie Murphy. "Peer Pressure Has a Positive Side." 1 November 2015. Scientific America. Document. 25 November 2017.
Survelum Public Data Bank. Peer Pressure Survey Statistics at Survelum Public Data Bank. 2013. Web. 25 November 2017.
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