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Peer Group: Definition & Concept

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  • 0:01 Definition
  • 1:15 Influences on Socialization
  • 2:29 Advantages of Peer Groups
  • 3:19 Disadvantages of Peer Groups
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

A peer group is a social group that consists of individuals of the same social status who share similar interests and are close in age. Learn about peer groups, how they influence socialization during childhood and adolescence, and more.

Definition

Have you ever played on a sports team? Maybe you took ballet classes as a child or attended a local preschool. If so, you have participated in a peer group. Peer groups are a type of social group that is made up of people who share similar interests, social status, and are in the same age group. This means that a 4-year-old would not be in a peer group with 12-year-olds. Similarly, college professors would not be in the same peer group as their students.

Examples of peer groups include:

  • Sports teams of which we are a part of (i.e. basketball, soccer, football, ballet)
  • School organizations and clubs (i.e. chess club, science club, band, orchestra)
  • Classmates
  • Neighbors who are close in age
  • A group consisting of first-time moms that are close in age

We all belong to several peer groups at the same time. For example, a child may be a member of a soccer team, a popular clique in school, and a member of the band. Each peer group has its own rules, expectations for behavior, and hierarchies. As such, the peer groups that we belong to influence our behaviors and beliefs.

Influences on Socialization

Peer groups play an important role in socialization, especially in childhood and adolescence. Peer groups are the only form of socialization that is not under the control of adults. Peer groups provide children with the opportunity to be a part of relationships that are productive and beneficial for all parties involved. They also allow children to create relationships with one another without being under adult control.

Peer groups foster self-exploration. Children begin to make decisions for themselves and participate in activities that allow them to express who they are. Children are also able to experience and work through conflicts with their peers, cooperate with each other, and compete with each other in peer groups.

Influences on Socialization

We do not know if the family or peers play a more important role in the socialization of children and adolescents. Peer group influence is at its highest during adolescence. As children progress into adolescents, they tend to spend less time under adult supervision and more time with their peers. It has been noted that peer groups generally have more influence on interests that are short term, such as fashion trends. The family usually has more influence on long-term interests, such as religion.

Advantages of Peer Groups

There are several advantages to peer groups. For example,

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