Facing peer pressure, particularly when a teenager, is stressful, overwhelming, and confusing. I know the feeling. It’s happened to me on many occasions. In the moment, you want to ‘fit in’, be ‘one of them’, not disappoint, and be perceived as “being cool.” But, inside, something doesn’t feel right. Staying true to yourself in the face of peer pressure is one of the toughest challenges teenagers face during their school years. The causes of peer pressure are one thing, but the effects of peer pressure are unquestionably another.
If you or someone you know, are facing peer pressure just know that it happens to many of us. In this article, you’re going to learn about how to identify the causes and effects of peer pressure so you can begin to dissect and analyze it as a common phenomenon. In other words, you’ll become a peer-pressure-samurai-master. Which means, by the time you’re finished with this 3-part series, the next time peer pressure decides to strike, unlike many other people, you’ll be equipped to deal properly with it. Major understanding
Why are You Here?
If you have landed here because of the previous article, great! If not, I recommend you also check it out. It’s about answering the question of what is peer pressure? And briefly explores how, over time, it has changed. Not to mention, it sets the stage for the following articles in this series. Now, back to why you are here. You’re here because you’re ready to learn more about this strange yet real phenomenon of peer pressure. If you’ve already read the previous article to this awesome! In the next few minutes, you’re going to discover not only about the various causes of peer pressure but also how to deal with the harsh effects of peer pressure. Things you must know before becoming a peer-pressure-samurai-master.
Why is such an in-depth examination necessary? For one thing, failing adequately to comprehend the causes of negative peer pressure, will likely put you in a tough situation unable to avoid it. Furthermore, without undertaking a thoughtful analysis of the effects of peer pressure, you may fail to recognize the many ways in which peer pressure can actually prove to be beneficial.
The Vulnerability of Teenagers
Before we embark on the voyage of discussing the causes and effects of peer pressure, it’s critical we first recognize something important. That is; the disproportionate impact that the causes and effects of peer pressure have upon teenagers. The website All Psychology Careers cites a study by Margo Gardner, and Laurence Steinberg entitled: Peer Influence on Risk Taking, Risk Preference, and Risky Decision Making in Adolescence and Adulthood. In the study, Margo and
In the study, Margo and Laurence examined peer pressure through a computer driving simulation. A type of simulation designed to measure risky behavior. The study separated experimental subjects into three groups: adolescents (with a mean age of 14), young people (with a mean age of 19), and adults (with a mean age of 37). The study found that young people took approximately 50 percent more risks in the presence of peers. While the behavior of adults changed little in the presence of peers.
While there are a number of other studies that support the claim that teens and young adults are more vulnerable to peer pressure, it just takes careful observation at your school, social group, or sports team to see that peer pressure occurs more often towards teens and young adults.
The Causes of Peer Pressure
Why do teens show this strong tendency to conform to peer expectations? The reasons are multifaceted and complicated. Online resource Reference.com points to the fact that young people tend to be curious. They become exposed to learning about sex, drug use, and other taboo practices. Types of causes that define the bulk of negative peer pressure. Other causes teens succumb to peer pressure include things like:
- A desire to ‘fit in.’
- To avoid rejection and gain social acceptance.
- Hormonal inconsistencies.
- Personal/social confusion and/or anxiety.
- A lack of structure at home.
Teens, however, even with exceptional parents and a healthy home life are susceptible to peer pressure. As life under parental rule begins to clash more and more, the need to develop a personal identity strengthens. As a result, teens join peer groups in an attempt to grow more independent. “For teens, it becomes easier to relate to friends than to parents,” states All Psychology Careers. This ability to relate and connect to one another lays the groundwork for peer pressure of all types.
The Effects of Peer Pressure
In its online fact sheet, Reach Out identifies the potential effects of peer pressure that go beyond the realms of sex and drugs. These effects include but, are certainly not limited to:
- Academic performance.
- Fashion choices.
- Decisions regarding social groups.
- Willingness to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Of course, in extreme cases, negative peer pressure may coerce otherwise “good” adolescences to engage in criminal activity. However, as you can see from the general effects outlined by Reach Out, peer pressure doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In other words, your peers may influence your academic performance, your fashion sense, or any other aspects of your life for the better as well as for, the worse.
Peer Pressure can be a Positive Thing
In her article The Effects of Peer Pressure on Teenagers, published on LiveStrong.com, Karen Kleinschmidt discusses ways in which teenagers can set positive examples for each other. For instance, to “pressure” one another to succeed. For example, she states, “a teenager who is hesitant about joining the drama club might be more likely to take a chance when pressured by peers. If friends say, ‘come on, we’re all joining’ or ‘you have natural talent. I think you’d be perfect for that role,’ the teen’s confidence may increase”. And, who knows, maybe they might find or develop a hidden talent they didn’t know they had. Or, it helps build self-confidence to go on to achieve many great things in their life.
Take action: Encourage someone you meet today to do something great!
See also: How to Deal With Peer Pressure Like a Seasoned Pro.
Your Knowledge of Peer Pressure can Make All the Difference
By understanding the root causes of peer pressure and its potential effects, you can learn to choose your friends with care and make the most out of each social interaction that you have. For more information on both the positive and negative mechanisms of peer pressure, check out these great TED Talks by Leyla Bravo-Willey and Risa Berrin.