What is Peer Pressure? - Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 Peer Pressure
  • 0:53 Types of Peer Pressure
  • 1:40 Who Experiences Peer Pressure
  • 2:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Manuela Heberle

Manuela has master's degree in counseling and has taught psychology, social psychology, and a tests and measurements course.

In this lesson, you'll learn who your peers are and how they can pressure you into actions that you wouldn't normally do -- peer pressure. We'll cover types of peer pressure and who is most likely to experience it.

Peer Pressure

Peers are people who you socialize with or that are similar to you in age, interests, or in some other way. Peers can include people you are friends with, go to school with, work with or meet at an event. Peer pressure is when you are influenced by other people (your peers) to act in a certain way. If you're with friends who are doing something that you typically would not do and they convince you to do what they are doing, that is an example of peer pressure. Let's take a look at just how influential peers can be in doing illegal drugs.

Chart of peer pressure effect on drug use

The way pressure is applied by peers can vary. A peer might pressure you directly by asking you to do something, or they might tease or coax you so that you will fall in line with their behavior. They may not say anything at all; instead, they may pressure you by treating you as an outcast or by ignoring you.

Types of Peer Pressure

Peer pressure can be negative or positive. Let's look at two examples.

Example #1: One of your friends is drinking and asks if you want a drink, too. When you turn down the offer, your friend makes remarks that others laugh at, or she keeps on trying to coax you to take a drink. In an effort to fit in, you eventually drink with her, even though you would not otherwise do so. This is an example of negative peer pressure.

Example #2: You don't really apply yourself much in school. You have a friend that does apply herself who talks with you about the drawbacks of ditching classes and not turning in your work. She suggests that the two of you study together, so you begin to study with her on a regular basis and see an improvement in your grades. This is an example of positive peer pressure.

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