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.

Expert Contributor
Jennifer Levitas

Dr. Levitas has a Ph.D. in psychology from George Mason University. She has taught myriad psychology courses for 30 years on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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.

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Additional Activities

Peer Group - Writing Activities

Prompt 1:

Peer groups consist of social groups with similarities to an individual in terms of age and interests. Think of a peer group to which you belonged in your earlier years. How do you think the group influenced your behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs? For example, a girl may have a peer group in a high-level ballet class. From this group she may learn that everything is a competition, and that she must try her best to get the principle roles in the ballet performance, and hope for the other girls to perform poorly. She may also have learned from this peer group that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable due to its ubiquity in this milieu, and that the body is just a tool in the dance world so there is no point in being physically modest. Write a reflective journal entry about an experience in a peer group you have had, and discuss how your behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs may have been influenced.

Prompt 2:

You read about peer pressure in the lesson. We generally think of peer pressure as being the negative influence of a peer group on an individual, but do you think that peer pressure could lead to positive outcomes as well? In two to three paragraphs, write about three negative outcomes of peer pressure and three positive outcomes of peer pressure. For example, a negative outcome may be the pressure to engage in a physical opposite-sex relationship at an earlier age. A positive outcome could be the pressure to maintain a 4.0 average if one's peer group does so.

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