PSYC4020 6.00D Seminar in Social Psychology
April 6, 2011
Peer Pressure during Adolescence
This paper will discuss aspects of peer pressure during adolescence. Peer pressure is defined as the social influence that others have on an individual, in this case adolescents. The pressure is applied in order to get an individual to believe or act in a certain way. The form of peer pressure is acted out by ones peer group against other peers and as a result it leads to a change of behavior. According to Erik Erikson (1973) theory of social development, the adolescent stage is categorized as the transition from childhood to adulthood. The term teenagers can also be used to describe adolescents as well. Erik Erickson (1973) defines that in this stage adolescents struggle with social interactions in an attempt to find their own identity. To elaborate further, Erikson (1973) proposed that most adolescents strive to achieve a sense of identity in regards to who they are and the direction that they take in life. Types of Peer Pressure
There are three main types of peer pressure which are categorized as positive, neutral and negative peer pressure (Bernstein, 2005). Positive peer pressure is described as the circumstances in which peers persuade and promote beneficial actions for one another. For instance, having a friend to persuade another teenager to stay home and study for an exam. Neutral peer pressure occurs naturally, it is described as the tendency to follow a crowd which does not perform harm to oneself or others. An example of neutral peer pressure is when friends encourage a teenager to go to a movie that each have been excited to see. Although positive and neutral peer pressure has major influences on an adolescent, this paper will focus mainly on negative peer pressure. Negative peer pressure occurs when a group persuade someone into doing something harmful or making a dangerous decision. This paper will provide many examples of negative peer pressure and its influences. Why study peer pressure?
The topic of peer pressure is of particular interest to me because peer pressure can lead to harmful effects on an individual and even fatal depending on the outcome. As one progresses through the many stages of development, almost each and every individual will experience peer pressure. In my youth, I’ve always felt pressured to do certain tasks or to “follow the crowd”. I wanted to study and examine the underlying forces that are behind pressure by one’s peers. Not only did I want to investigate important themes of peer pressure; I also wanted to provide information to the reader and to children so that they will not become a victim of negative peer pressure. I feel that peer pressure is a topic that is not taken seriously. I feel that it motivates us to strive for success or failure or hinder good judgment. After gathering enough data on the concept of peer pressure, I want to be able to implement a workshop or intervention that will help adolescents to become aware of peer pressure and how an individual can act in a peer pressured situation. In this paper I’m going to be discussing specific themes relating to peer pressure. These themes include how peers are pressured to join gangs, use alcohol and drugs, and pressures to have sex. Before I discuss these major themes, I will first the address the concept of peer pressure and why adolescents are highly prone. I will also include a hypothetical intervention to deal with peer pressure during adolescence. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure typically depends on the peer group that teens chose to associate with or someone they aspire to (Kaplan, 1987). Some teens choose to follow a popular crowd, because they fear being deemed as less “popular” and being ostracized by their fellow peers. There is also the pressure of teens that are not in a popular group but would like to be associated...