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Peer Pressure and Adolescent Behavior

Peer pressure is one of the social and psychological processes which has an impact on life and behavior of both children and adults. The importance of person-environment match between people, their families, and communities has been discussed. Peer pressure has challenged the notion that highly cohesive neighborhoods are the best environments for people. The current research literature has described potential pitfalls in dangerous neighborhoods for families and people. Also, the idea has been explored that people living in troubled minority neighborhoods may be more susceptible to engaging in risk-taking behaviors (Raum 2008), community influences may differentially influence people, dependent on their chronic illness status; chronically ill may be particularly vulnerable to peer pressure and may experience worse outcomes associated with risk-taking behaviors.

Following Blair (2005) additional studies that measure people’ peer networks, including people’ perceptions of peers as well as direct assessments of peers themselves, would help close the gaps in an understanding of different people’ peer relationships. Through the investigation of people’ peer groups in relation to community characteristics, it is possible to determine the mediating and moderating influences between peers and communities for people (Blair, 2005). Friends may mediate connections between community characteristics and people’ experiences-for example, in socially disorganized communities, there may be more delinquent and deviant activity for people to get involved in. In such contexts, people who may be socially isolated, may have more opportunity to associate with delinquent peers and engage in delinquent activities. Thus, in the mediating model, the negative influence of troubled communities operates through peers. In a moderating model, delinquent peers would exert a deleterious influence on people only in contexts where the neighborhood shows signs of disorganization. That is, moderately socially organized neighborhoods would buffer people from becoming involved with delinquent peers and their activities (Raum, 2008).

Underlying the idea of a good fit between communities and people is the assumption that people may experience their communities differently than do their peers (Blair, 2005). Adler and Adler admit that: “Factors affecting children’s popularity and unpopularity are different for boys and girls. These are rooted in the strong gendered peer cultures that arise during th, as children attempt to discern the contours of adult gender dimensions and adapt them, as relevant, to their own age cultures” (p. 38). In particular, it is suggested that what may constitute a good match for teenagers and their communities may not necessarily include the same ingredients that create an optimal match. Instead, the possibility is raised that, to the extent to which highly cohesive and organized neighborhoods represent a controlling force, they may be associated with more negative outcomes for people. A moderate level of cohesion in communities would lead to the most optimal match between community characteristics and people (Raum, 2008).

Critics admit that communities do not simply impact people directly. Instead, community characteristics influence families, and families in turn influence people. In highly stressed communities, families may bolster efforts to protect people from proximal dangers. This healthy wish to protect a child from danger, however, may be exacerbated in families that already engage in protective strategies surrounding the management and care of deviant behavior (Raum, 2008). Although increased protection may help people’ physical well-being to some extent, it may have the unfortunate consequence of undermining people’ attempts at individuation and attainment of other developmentally appropriate goals. he greater the prevalence of people who engage in delinquent activity, the more opportunity for other people to become associated with delinquent activity. It is suggested that such a situation presents a particularly risky situation for people. People may be more susceptible to trying to “fit in” with peers, a situation that exposes them to the negative influence of peer pressure. “Friendships held certain social meanings in the peer group and displayed patterns of occurrence connecting them to other social factors and processes” (Adler and Adler 1998, p. 116). If this is the case, then people who live in neighborhoods with low levels of social organization may be most vulnerable to engaging in delinquent activity. In other words, the relation between socially disorganized neighborhoods and delinquent people may be intensified by people’ increased vulnerability to peer pressure (Raum, 2008).

Clearly, individual differences among people exist, creating a mosaic of complex and diverse patterns within this special group. Individual differences occur at multiple layers. First of all, not all teenagers in the same community are exposed to the same level of community characteristics. Second, among those who are exposed to the same level of a community characteristic, not all will respond in the same way. One line of inquiry relevant to researchers, health practitioners, and policymakers is to identify which community characteristics are associated with better or worse adherence to management of the disease (Raum, 2008). Currently, psychosocial predictors of health status include a patients’ adherence and stress (Johnson, 1995). This work suggests that in addition to these individual level predictors. The full gamut of highly organized to highly chaotic and dangerous neighborhoods has implications for how people manage their disease, as well as for how their families will cope with maintenance. Consideration of the neighborhood context with respect to people should occur at multiple levels, including the medical level (e.g., pediatricians taking into account the contextual barriers to compliance), research level (e.g., social scientists exploring the potential role of community characteristics on people’ adherence, general well-being, and family processes), and the policy level (e.g., implementing social policy that moves toward creating optimal environments for all adolescents, with particular attention to those who are ill or disabled) (Raum, 2008).

Teenagers also engage in stealing, which often takes the form of shoplifting. Many adolescent thefts are an act of bravado and not necessarily predictive of adult stealing behavior. The tendency to shoplift is generally not related to socioeconomic status. Teenagers appear to shoplift for excitement, although peer pressure may have some influence. Involvement in shoplifting has also been shown to be strongly influenced by the teen’s beliefs regarding the morality of the behavior, attachment to parents, and friends’ shoplifting behavior (Slavens and Shannon, 2004). Stealing may serve as an initiating ritual, as a way of establishing peer group membership. For similar reasons, some teenagers engage in vandalism and destruction of property. Teen vandalism in schools is associated with different teenagers, with higher-status families, and with being absent less often from schools. The thoughtless destruction of property can also be the result of the impulsive expression of adolescent anger. Regardless of the kind of rule-breaking behavior displayed, the clinical child psychologist should try to understand why this behavior occurs. Nonpathological, normal variants of rule-breaking behavior can easily escalate into more serious pathological, antisocial behavior. Obviously, if the rule-breaking behaviors become chronic, intense, and/or persistent, more frequent and intense intervention will be necessary. Rule-breaking behavior must be treated because it can damage the teen-parent relationship, which otherwise can be a protective factor to moderate further adolescent risk taking and antisocial behavior (Raum, 2008).

Personally, I experience peer pressure everyday communicating with different people including neighbors, group mates and friends. In my life, conformity is a function of the interaction between conditionability and the amount and severity of training. The ability to be conditioned is seen as dependent on the child’s individual resources. In my relations with others, socialization occurs when fear responses are conditioned that inhibit the tendency to perform delinquent behaviors. Seeing no obligation to respect the rights of others, they believe that they are completely and totally free to behave toward other people and property in whatever fashion suits their immediate needs. Furthermore, they believe society has neither the right nor the capacity to hold them responsible for the consequences of their actions. This failure to recognize any ability on the part of society to sanction them, coupled with their own lack of any internal standards or sense of responsibility to anyone other than themselves, allows for the development of a decidedly antisocial behavior pattern that may know no limits in terms of its severity (Raum, 2008). According to Blair (2005), projection is seen as a very common defense mechanism for these people, who are able to hold others responsible for any punishment, however slight, they may incur. Therefore, they may have to spend a short time in custody as a result of the actions of a police officer, judge, or some other individual, but they deny any responsibility for their own behavior and, although totally disregarding the rights of others, are surprisingly forceful in protesting when they perceive that their rights have been violated. This is so because such substances may interact with the disease as well as medication, predisposing these th for even more significant troubles (Stenson, 2001). Following Adler and Adler (1998): “Beyond their inner circle of close friends lay a wide range of others with whom people maintained more casual friendships” (p. 127). I maintained a lot of relations with people from my neighborhood belonging to the same social class as my family.

In some cases, peer pressure can have extremely negative impact on people. For instance, some of my friends were involved in violence and delinquency influenced by their peers. Also, it is known that a disturbing trend in juvenile violence is the epidemic of school violence. In the past decade, the incidence of school violence, even in rural communities, has increased in frequency and number of deaths associated with each incidence. These incidents have resulted in society and Congress engaging in a national debate regarding gun control and limiting children’s access to guns and information on how to make other weapons (including information on the Internet on how to manufacture bombs). As the newspapers and media admited, two students in Littleton, Colorado, stormed their high school, killing 12 students and one teacher using guns and homemade bombs. A few weeks later, a 15-year-old student entered his school with two guns, shooting and wounding 6 students. Since 1993, over 43 students were killed in school shootings in 14 incidents, prompting many to describe the increase in school killings as epidemic (Blair 2005).

Young people are often thought to have adopted deviant standards of a nondominant portion of community that differs from the values of the dominant society. There is an alternative process whereby the person becomes delinquent by first learning the moral implications of a particular act according to the standards of the dominant society. Though, the delinquent learns to neutralize the moral implications of the act. Although social class may play a role, the key in this explanation is that the moral imperative followed by the juvenile delinquent is consistent with a deviant culture rather than the standards of mainstream society. The theory is based on the interactions between the norms that exist in a society and the goals to which the society encourages its members to aspire (Blair 2005).

The only negative experience I had was alcohol abuse. Still, I understand that personal goals and values are more important that opinions of some pees so my friends and I escape these behavior now. The key element is the opportunity that the society offers its members to accomplish these goals. A basic premise in the theory is that some special systems exert pressure on certain members to engage in deviant behavior. This occurs when the society prescribes certain goals or aspirations for its members but fails to support the prescribed means for reaching these goals (Raum, 2008).

Those aspiring to the goals, generally the members of the society, will identify the most efficient means of reaching these goals, and, whether legal or not, these means will be followed. The social structure becomes unsteady as a result of the failure by society to provide its members with legal means to achieve the goals that the society itself values. This basic flaw in a society encourages and maintains delinquent and criminal behavior. Revisions to the differential association theory focus more on the process by which the delinquent chooses to model his or her behavior after others in his or her life and to incorporate established learning principles. In many ways, these attempts have helped sociology use the theory of differential association to clarify the manner in which individual delinquent patterns emerge as well as those patterns that are descriptive of group behavior. Furthermore, this theory has helped pull the sociological and psychological perspective more closely together, particularly in those formulations based on learning theory. Community must train the child to conform to certain rules seen as necessary for the preservation of society. This training involves a conditioning to fear, and, as a result, anxiety is aroused as the child approaches the undesirable act. This conditioned fear then inhibits the behavior as soon as it begins to occur. Physical punishment and withdrawal of parental support are the means by which the anxiety and fear are conditioned to the early stages of the behavior. For the behavior to be fully self-regulated, the values must be internalized; that is, the child must develop a conscience (Slavens and Shannon 2004).

In sum, peer pressure has both positive and negative results on behavior of an individual. To the individual level risk connected with deviant peers, community attributes may also play a role in increasing adolescents’ vulnerability to deviant activities. Communities that are socially disorganized and exhibit low social control tend to have a higher proportion of deviant members of society compared to neighborhoods that are less disorganized and controlled. From my personal experience I know that it is difficult to escape, avoid and neglect peer pressure but strong personal values and morals would help every persona to resist negative peer pressure. Teens, who may already be vulnerable to peer pressure, and who live in neighborhoods where they have more opportunity to associate with delinquent peers, may find it especially difficult to avoid risk- taking behaviors. Risk-taking behaviors, such as using drugs and smoking, have a far more deleterious effect on shy teenagers than their active counterparts.


Adler, P, A. (1998). Peer Power: Preadolescent Culture and Identity. Rutgers University Press.

Blair, L. I. (2005). Peer Pressure. Golden Books.

Raum, E. (2008). Peer Pressure. Heinemann First Library; 1 edition.

Slavens, E. Shannon, B. (2004). Peer Pressure: Deal with it without losing r cool. Lorimer.

Stenson, J. B. (2001). Preparing for Peer Pressure: A Guide for Parents of ng Children. Scepter Publications.

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