Discussion: Peer Pressure
A very common term discussed by youth, parents, and teachers alike is peer pressure. What is meant by this term, and what has research found? Is peer pressure the monolithic force that people think it is? Peer pressure is defined as the process in which “people of the same age group encourage particular behavior, dress, and attitude. This is usually considered negative, when peers encourage behavior that is contrary to norms or morals, but it can also be positive” (Berger, 2016, p. 360). Research has found that some individuals are more susceptible to the influence of peers than others based on their genetic makeup and early experiences (Prinstein, Brechwald, & Cohen, 2011). Further, research has found that early adolescents (ages 11–13) are more susceptible to influence than late adolescents (ages 17–19).
How exactly do researchers study peer pressure? This is an interesting question, as adolescents may not be willing or even aware enough of their own motivations and behavior to describe their actions in this area. A group of researchers led by Jensen and Bursztyn (2015) devised a very interesting approach to understanding the impact of peer pressure in adolescence. They performed an experiment on 11th graders in several public schools in Los Angeles, in which they offered a free online SAT prep course for which students could sign up. They described the course on a flier, but for one group of students, the flier stated, “Your decision to sign up for the course will be kept completely private from everyone, except the other students in the room.” The other flier had the same description of the SAT prep program, but it stated, “Your decision to sign up for the course will be kept completely private from everyone, including the other students in the room.”
What did they find? These researchers found that for the group of students who thought their classmates would know about their participation in the program, honors students were more likely to sign up, and non-honors students were lesslikely to sign up if they thought their peers would know. This study demonstrates perfectly the positive and negative effect that peer pressure can have on adolescents. You explore these interconnections in greater detail in this Discussion.
- As you review this week’s Learning Resources, consider the following questions: When you think of peer pressure, is it primarily a force encouraging negative and antisocial behaviors? Alternatively, can peer pressure lead adolescents to positive/prosocial behaviors?
- Consider ways that gender, age, and cultural background may impact the nature of peer pressure.
By Day 4
Post your argument explaining the positive and negative nature of peer pressure. Please support your arguments with scholarly sources that point to both types of influence (positive and negative) that peers can have on adolescents and emerging adults. Be sure to address how gender, age, and cultural may impact the nature of peer pressure.
Read your colleagues’ postings.
By Day 6
Respond to at least two colleagues by rebutting or adding to their arguments and supporting your position with references to the literature.
Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources. Use proper APA format and citations.
Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights that you have gained as a result of your colleagues’ comments.