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Things to Know About Peer Pressure

Things to Know About Peer Pressure

Last Updated: 28-03-2023

Written by :

Ms.Zahabiya Bambora
Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.

Reviewed By:

Counselling Psychologist MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
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What is peer pressure?

Peers are people who belong to the same social group. They play a major role in the social and emotional development of children and adolescents. The effect that a peer group has, begins at an early age and becomes more prominent during the teenage years as this is the time that a child starts to form new relations with people and starts to form an identity amongst them. It is the most common age for children to start experimenting with alcohol, drugs, sexual activity, and other risky behaviors (, 2019).

Types of peer pressures:

  1. Active peer pressure: This type of pressure is when someone asks, suggests, or tries to persuade another person to engage in certain activities or behave in a certain manner. The influence depends on whether it is from a single entity or a group. Groups tend to have greater pressure on an individual. For example, friends try to explicitly force you into drinking at a party or social gathering.
  2. Passive peer pressure: This type of peer pressure is more like a choice that a person is left with upon being exposed to certain actions of peer/s. The person can choose if they would want to follow along or not. For example, since others are wearing something, the person should follow to ‘fit in’. No one is directly asking them to follow, but there is unspoken pressure. 

Peer pressure can be negative or positive:

  • Positive peer pressure: The influence that pushes a person to indulge in behaviors that are healthy, and age-appropriate is positive peer pressure. For example, if a person is not performing well in academics, his/her peers who are performing well can talk to and motivate him/her or their performance can indirectly push him/her to work harder and perform better. A group leading a healthy lifestyle can influence a person to do the same.
  • Negative peer pressure: The pressure that makes a person indulge in activities that are against their moral code or that negatively impacts them is known as negative peer pressure. Many teens succumb to the pressure of engaging in such activities because they want acceptance. For example, a person who abstains from drinking might begin drinking in order to ‘fit in’ and be socially acceptable.

Dr. Prinstein in his research has put forward that there are certain traits that are found in teens who are more susceptible to peer pressure:

  • They are highly concerned about their social status.
  • Tend to have a low self-esteem
  • Early maturation
  • Either have overly lenient or overly strict parents
  • Moving to a new environment and adjusting to it is hard. Teens can succumb to peer pressure and be accepted readily in this new space.

Peer pressure is hard to resist but it can become an opportunity for you to grow and learn what’s right for you. The following things can be done :

  • Listen to your inner voice: A situation that might seem alright to your friends may not mean the same to you. Always listen to your gut. Try to make decisions accordingly.
  • Learn to say ‘NO’ and be comfortable with it: A simple ‘NO’ from your mouth can save you from doing what you don’t want to. For example, if you don’t want to miss a class and all your friends are trying to talk you into it, you could just say, ”No, I need to attend this in order to catch up with what is going on before the examination”.
  • Arrange a “bail-out” phrase that you can use with your parents: If you want to avoid a situation you could call your parents and use your safety phrase so that they know that they need to get you out of there without the other person knowing about it.
  • Know what you want and decide ahead of time: If you know that you might be put on the spot to try booze or drugs at some social gathering that you are going to attend, plan for it before going. Thinking ahead of time will prevent you from indulging in any activity that you don’t want to be a part of.
  • Be vocal about your values: Keep declaring your stand on matters that influence others negatively. It not only builds the capacity to fight things off even if they present themselves before you but also keeps people who have a contrary opinion away and helps you build friendships with like-minded people.
  • Don’t be hesitant to ask for help if you feel that a situation seems to be dangerous.  

Resisting negative peer pressure is not an easy choice but the feeling that one has when they do resist such advances of other people is irresistible. Your stand might just help other peers of yours to take a stand for themselves. Peer pressure can either lead you to your desired destination or leave you astray. It all depends on your choice.


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