Peer Pressure: Statistics, Examples & Signs

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

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

Did you know that 90 percent of teens report having experienced peer pressure? In this lesson, we will learn all about peer pressure from statistics and examples. We will also discuss the signs of peer pressure.

Effects of Peer Pressure

Frank has always been a good kid. He received straight A's from Kindergarten through middle school, he volunteered at the local pet shop, and he never had any trouble at school or with the police. Things began to change after Frank entered high school. Frank's grades began to slip, he started missing curfew, and his attitude became increasingly hostile. Frank's parents also noticed that Frank had become more secretive and started cutting class. The final straw for Frank's parents was when they received a call from Frank's school noting that Frank had missed a significant number of classes. Concerned, Frank's parents decided to attend family therapy, where it was uncovered that Frank had been experiencing an increasing amount of peer pressure.

What is Peer Pressure?

The people we socialize with have a profound effect on us, especially during adolescence. We often look to our peers for guidance, reassurance, and a sense of belonging. We look to our peers to determine many things, such as what to wear, what is appropriate behavior, how we should respond to certain situations, and how to think. A peer is someone who is in the same social group as you and has at least one shared characteristic, i.e. you are in the same age group, same class, or same level of education.

Peer pressure occurs when a peer or group of peers influences you to change your attitudes, decisions, behaviors, or beliefs. Peer pressure can come in many forms. For example, peers may call you names in order to get you to do something. Peers may try to persuade you, or tell you that if you don't do something, they will no longer be friends with you. Peer pressure can also be indirect. For example, seeing all of your friends doing something may influence you to do it as well. Frank's friends' convincing him to skip school is an example of peer pressure.

Other examples of peer pressure include:

  • Paige offers Henry a drink, which Henry declines. Paige calls Henry a loser and makes fun of him, so Henry decides to drink.
  • Greg goes to the mall with four boys from his school. All of the boys are shoplifting, so Greg decides to steal something to fit in.
  • Sam threatens to break up with Molly if she does not have sex with him, so Molly decides to have sex with Sam even though she initially wanted to abstain from sex.

Peer pressure is not always negative. Peer pressure can lead to choices, behaviors, and thoughts that are positive and beneficial to the person being pressured. For example, let's suppose that Henry stood firm in declining to drink after being offered a drink by Paige. Henry then explained to Paige the risks associated with teenage drinking and persuaded Paige to give up drinking. This is still a form of peer pressure. Likewise, Greg could threaten to cut ties with the four boys who were shoplifting, which may persuade the boys to quit stealing. Again, this is also peer pressure.

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