“Peer pressure plays a huge role in people’s desire to get married.”
Adam Levine, Musician
Peer Pressure: Causes, Effects and Solutions
Peer pressure (sometimes also referred to as social pressure) is the effect on individuals whose attitudes, beliefs or values are changed by their peers in order to conform to those of the influencing group.
Peer pressure is quite common among teenagers since they are often easy to influence and not stable in their beliefs yet.
In this article, the causes, effects and solutions regarding peer pressure are examined.
Causes for Peer Pressure
- Weak personality
- Fear of rejection
- Social acceptance
- Avoidance of bullying
- Improvements in coolness
- Humans want to be liked
- Hormonal reasons
- Bad parenting
- Cultural values
- Personal confusion
- Mental issues
Peer pressure is quite effective on people who have not developed a stable personality yet. The weaker the personality, the easier it is for groups to influence individuals to behave in certain ways.
Since character and personality take time to evolve and to grow, teenagers and young adults are at greater risk to be affected by peer pressure compared to older individuals who have more life experience.
Thus, the weaker the personality, the higher the chance that people get affected by peer pressure.
Fear of rejection
Many people in our society are also quite fearful of rejection and are therefore afraid to have their own opinion. If this fear of rejection is too strong, it may lead to a point where the individual gives up all his values and beliefs just to conform to the attitudes and value systems of a group. Thus, this fear of rejection is a powerful reason for pack behavior and the development of peer pressure.
Some people also feel the need to fit into our society and our common cultural and sociological value system in order to be socially accepted. However, fitting in also requires individuals to give up many of their own beliefs and traits. People who are desperate to fit in are easy targets for peer pressure and certain groups of people who understand this may exploit those people and use them for their goals.
Avoidance of bullying
People who haven’t developed a strong character yet are also often victims of bullying activities in school. In order to get out of all of this, people who are afraid to become victims of bullying might join groups or gangs in which they feel safe and protected.
However, by joining those gangs, the peer pressure for doing certain things or in the extreme case to commit certain crimes can be quite strong, which may lead to several other issues like going to jail.
Improvements in coolness
Especially for teenagers or young adults, coolness is a quite important factor and those age groups are often quite concerned about it. Thus, in order to become cooler, teenagers are often willing to change their outfits, their value systems and also to hang out with criminal people in order to improve their level of coolness to impress others and to strengthen their social status in school.
Humans want to be liked
As humans, we generally want to be liked and valued. However, this is a big weakness that might be exploited by people knowing about this weakness of human nature. If you do everything to be liked, you have to give up most of your personality.
In turn, you may become too weak to reject things out of sheer peer pressure and you may commit crimes or other things you do not actually want to be involved.
Thus, the need for affirmation may make people quite vulnerable to peer pressure and the related adverse effects.
Especially for teenagers, there might also be hormonal issues when it comes to peer pressure. The hormone system of teenagers is quite complex and hormone levels change quite frequently. Thus, this makes teenagers quite vulnerable to peer pressure since their hormones may weaken their ability to judge certain actions correctly.
Parents have a huge influence on the mental development of their children. If parents install self-esteem in their children from an early age on, chances are that those children are less vulnerable to peer pressure since they may have developed a strong enough character to value their own opinion more than the opinion of others.
However, if you have parents who do not care about you too much, chances are that you may suffer from low levels of self-esteem, which may make you quite prone to peer pressure and the related consequences.
Religion may also play a significant role in the context of peer pressure. If you grow up in a household where religion is quite important, you may feel the obligation to join those religious beliefs even if you do not even believe in those things at all. Thus, religion may take away your ability to form your own beliefs since the peer pressure around you might just be too strong.
Similar to religious beliefs, cultural values may also be a significant cause for the development of peer pressure. If you live in a quite conservative environment and there may be strict cultural rules which everyone is obliged to follow from an early age on, chances are that you will be forced into certain actions due to peer pressure and unconscious manipulation.
Some people, especially at a young age, may also be quite confused and may feel lost in life. This personal confusion may also make those people quite vulnerable to peer pressure, since those people may be desperate to find people who support them and may eventually end up in gangs or other groups that may use peer pressure in order to control what is going on.
Mental health issues may also make people vulnerable to peer pressure. If people suffer from mental issues, they may be easy to influence and those people may commit actions or crimes due to peer pressure which they otherwise wouldn’t have committed.
Effects of Peer Pressure
- Changes in performance at school
- Changes in attitude
- Changes in visual appearance
- Changes in school attendance
- Changes in political ideology
- Radical activities
- Drug use
Changes in performance at school
Peer pressure may have a significant impact on changes in grades in school. For instance, if you start to hang out with people who do not care about their grades at all, chances are that your own grades may suffer.
Moreover, if due to peer pressure, you engage in illegal activities, you might not even find time to do your homework in a proper manner.
Thus, significant changes in school performance may be an indicator of peer pressure and should be an alarm bell for parents.
Changes in attitude
Peer pressure also leads to serious changes in attitudes of the affected persons. For instance, if you hang out with people who have quite an alternative view on life, your worldview might also change over time from an initially conservative attitude to alternative beliefs. Thus, peer pressure can significantly change the way people look at life.
Changes in visual appearance
Teenagers who are affected by peer pressure may also change their visual appearance in a drastic manner. This could mean changes in hair colors or also getting piercings or tattoos. Depending on the change of visual appearance, parents should more or less worry about it.
At least, parents should pay close attention to changes in the visual appearance of their children in order to detect early warning signs and to act according to them.
Changes in school attendance
If teenagers hang out with people who do not care about school at all, hate their teachers and do not care about their future, chances are that they may also not be willing to attend school on a regular basis anymore.
Thus, peer pressure may also lead to a decline in school attendance, which may result in a lack of education and bad job opportunities later on.
Changes in political ideology
Some people who are affected by peer pressure may also suffer from changes in political ideologies. For instance, teenagers who had previously been quite tolerant towards minorities may now engage in extreme political beliefs due to peer pressure from friends or other people that influence them. Thus, peer pressure may also result in political risks.
Peer pressure may also lead to bullying in schools. Especially in schools where many minorities are present, chances are that some minorities will be bullied around.
Peer pressure may exacerbate the problem since children may have to decide if they are the bully or if they want to take the risk to become a victim of bullying. Out of the fear of getting bullied themselves, children may engage in bullying others due to peer pressure.
Especially among girls, anorexia is a serious issue that is exacerbated by peer pressure. If you hang out with girls that make their physical appearance a priority and are all on diet all the time, chances are that you may lose too much weight and develop eating disorders, which may lead to serious levels of anorexia.
In turn, you may suffer from serious physical and mental health issues, which may even lead to death in the worst case.
Due to peer pressure, some people may also radicalize themselves. For instance, if you hang out with people who are far left or far right on the political spectrum, chances are that you also change in a radical direction.
The same is true when it comes to religious radicalization. In the worst case, this kind of peer pressure may lead you to commit politically or religiously motivated illegal activities.
Especially among teenagers, the use of drugs is quite common. However, the use of drugs, even though it might be fun at first, may lead to drug dependence and the resulting issues related to it.
For instance, if you hang out with people who consume drugs, chances are that you will try it yourself one time. In case you like it too much, you may end up a drug addict and may have a quite hard time later in your life.
There may also be some accidents related to peer pressure. For example, there are reports of people who climb trains, climb buildings and do other crazy stuff in order to get attention and to impress the people around them.
However, some of those people may end up dying due to accidents related to their crazy actions. Thus, peer pressure may also result in the death of many people in the worst case.
Solutions to deal with Peer Pressure
- School classes to address this topic
- Parents should build self-esteem in children
- Increase of tolerance in our society
- Changes in our value systems
- Parents should observe changes in their kids’ behavior
- Parents should watch out for changes in ideologies
- Support children to find their passion
- Educate children about the consequences of drug use
- Get to know your kids’ friends
School classes to address this topic
In order to mitigate the adverse effects of peer pressure, schools should educate school kids about peer pressure and who it could impact their current and future life.
Through this education, children may become better prepared to refrain from peer pressure actions and to act according to their own value systems instead.
Parents should build self-esteem in children
It is also crucial that parents build self-esteem in their children so that they are not too dependent on the affirmation of others. If children have enough self-esteem and know what they want and what they don’t want to do, they will be less likely to engage in criminal activities due to peer pressure.
Increase of tolerance in our society
It is also crucial that we increase the overall level of tolerance in our society. By doing so, the negative effects of peer pressure may be reduced since more groups of people may act more tolerant towards others and crime related to intolerance could be lowered to a certain extent.
Changes in our value systems
We should also change our values in a direction where ideologies and religion do no longer determine our actions in an extreme manner. This doesn’t mean to take away religious beliefs, it means that we should not tolerate extremist behavior that claims religion as an excuse for horrible attacks. By changing our value systems, kids and teenagers may be less likely to engage in religious attacks due to peer pressure.
Parents should observe changes in their kids’ behavior
In order to fight the negative effects of peer pressure, it is also crucial that parents observe their kids’ behavior and pay close attention to behavioral changes. Those changes may indicate that kids are affected by peer pressure. In such a case, parents should talk to their kids in order to figure out what’s going on and to take measures before things may get out of control.
Parents should watch out for changes in ideologies
The same is true for changes in ideologies. If you as a parent observe a radical change in the ideology of your kid, you should figure out what’s going on. Many times, your kid might hang out with false friends which belong to extremist organizations.
By talking to your child and making clear that radical ideologies are based on flawed arguments, you may be able to prevent your kid to continue to hang out with those radical people.
Support children to find their passion
Another powerful way to protect your kids from the negative effects of peer pressure is to support them in finding their passion. If children have hobbies that are very important to them, they are less likely to hang out with friends who consume drugs and do other things that might result in plenty of trouble.
Educate children about the consequences of drug use
In many countries of our planet, there is still far too little education about drug use and abuse and the consequences related to it. Therefore, it is crucial that you as a parent educate your child on why it might be dangerous to take drugs. By doing so, your kid will be less likely to engage in drug use or dealing due to peer pressure.
Get to know your kids’ friends
It may also be quite useful to get to know the friends your kid hangs out with. Quite often, it is possible to determine the intent and the attitude of people by just talking to them for a while. By getting to know your kid’s friends, you might be able to identify if those friends may imply serious trouble for your own kids.
Peer pressure is quite common in our society. Especially for teenagers and young adults, peer pressure can be a significant danger since it is associated with several adverse consequences.
Therefore, parents should take a close look at how peer pressure may affect the behavior of their children in order to be able to take suitable measures in time if necessary.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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