Peer pressure is a common term we often hear about. It is a phenomenon in which, teenagers especially, are influenced by their peer groups. Like the sides of a coin, peer pressure has both pros and cons. Researchers say peer pressure is detrimental to a teenagers’ psyche, but at times it can act as a driving force.
Have you ever experienced peer pressure?
We live in a social environment, surrounded by peer groups. Being a social being, in one way or the other way, we have come across peer groups and in a similar way we might have experienced peer pressure. It is human nature to follow the crowd, so a change in lifestyle may sway an individual to change their outlook on life to be part of the group.
There are some positive effects of peer pressure:
- It can help an individual do something positive for society. It can motivate them to move in the right direction often providing them with emotional support. According to a research study, students often look to peers for social and emotional support.
- It can give a different perspective on the world. Knowing the world more closely by connecting with people outside of your home can give an individual a broader perspective on the world.
- A peer group can even help shape one’s personality as their behavior may influence them to improve themselves.
- It may you choose a desired career option. When you are exposed to a certain group, you explore multiple the options within that group, and eventually find your passion.
There are also negative effects.
According to the social identity theory, adolescents try on various identities and adopt the norms that are central to the social identity of their peer group to remain in good standing. Youngsters may feel compelled to do something against their area of interest. Though it does depend on the individual, most of the time, it seems that individuals make the wrong decision, and end up doing something that they regret.
As proposed by Bronfenbrenner (1979), “It may be useful to think of the strength of various social influences as depending on proximity and frequency of contact. The closest circles of influence include people with whom adolescents associate most of the time with like their family and peers, whose influence on their behavior, particularly smoking, is likely to be the greatest.”
Studies have found that young people indulge in activities that could be hazardous to their health due to peer pressure as a peer group has a profound influence on an individual especially youngsters. For example, a study by researchers at Columbia University shows that kids are six times more likely to have had a drink if their friends often drink alcohol.
Here are other negative effects:
Loss in individuality
Trying to live a life that is not yours and copying your peers can lead to losing individuality and identifying yourself may be difficult.
Effects in the lifestyle
When an individual looks up to a group and their lifestyle, be it in terms of style, music preferences or habits like partying, they start admiring their lifestyles and might be compelled to follow it. Sometimes peer pressure can even result in distancing an individual from their family.
Loss in confidence
When you end up in a group with people holding different skills and opinions, they can start comparing themselves with their peers and their skill sets, which in turn makes them feel inferior and results in a loss of confidence.
Undoubtedly, peer pressure has both positive and negative impacts and one cannot restrict the influence of peer pressure.
Fortunately according to Tom Hedrick, a founding member of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America “Parents’ influence is much more powerful than most parents realize.”
As an individual, we can focus on the positive impacts of peer pressure and create awareness about its negative effects.