The Problem and Its Background
Making decisions on your own is hard enough, but when other people get involved and try to pressure you one way or another it can be even harder. People who are your age, like your classmates, are called peers. When they try to influence how you act, to get you to do something, it's called peer pressure. It's something everyone has to deal with — even adults. Peer pressure, or the direct or indirect encouragement from one’s own age group to engage in activities that they may or may not want to engage in (Santor, Messervey, & Kusumakar, 2000), is a major factor in the development of risk-taking behaviors (e.g., alcohol use, drug use, and tobacco use; Lewis & Lewis, 1984). Peers act as an influential model by introducing, providing, or pressuring risky activities (i.e., alcohol use) to other peers (Kinard & Webster, 2010). The phrase, "everybody's doing it," is very much at the center of the concept of peer pressure. It is a social influence exerted on an individual in order to get that person to act or believe in a similar way as a larger group. This influence can be negative or positive, and can exist in both large and small groups. Most people experience it in some way during their lives. However, peer pressure may somewhat affect a person’s personality. Personality is not easily defined. Basically, personality refers to our attempts to capture or summarize an individual’s essence. Personality is made up of the characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that make a person unique. In addition to this, personality arises from within the individual and remains fairly consistent throughout life. No two people are exactly the same - not even identical twins. Some people are anxious, some are risk-taking; some are phlegmatic, some highly-strung; some are confident, some shy; and some are quiet and some are loquacious. This issue of differences is fundamental to the study of...
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