--Original published at Jessie's PSY105 Blog
People across all different stages of life experience peer pressure. This feeling that ,in order to fit in, you must conform to the group governs the way that many tend to act in social situations. For this post, I looked into the different recommendations available to those experiencing peer pressure who are students, athletes, or adults.
The first source I looked into was centered around students. The main sources of peer pressure that it identified were drugs/alcohol, stealing, sexual activity, bullying, and general dangerous behavior. While this website does go into a bit of detail about positive peer pressure which can, among other things, help a person come out of their shell or become more involved, I chose to focus on the points it made about negative peer pressure since the main focus is to identify ways of helping someone negatively affected by peer pressure. This source identified the first few weeks of school as being the most frequent time that students succumb to peer pressure as they want to make friends and fit in very badly. It says that it is important to remember that everyone is in the same boat as you and to not necessarily go along with the first people you meet. Look for those who share common interests with you. Particularly, more interested in something than drinking or other dangerous behavior. It also suggests to think about your limits beforehand. Decide what you do and don’t want to do with your school experience. I think that each of these suggestions are likely to be successful when it comes to helping someone experiencing peer pressure. Looking for others who share common interests with you reminded me of one of the factors of conformity: unanimity. It is difficult to go against a united front so if you surround yourself with friends that share your mindset, you won’t encounter the difficult choice of being socially accepted or staying true to yourself.
The second source I looked at was about how peer pressure affects athletes. This was focused around how an individual’s athletic success causes their fellow athletes to ostracize them out of jealousy. This source suggested a five step process to help: awareness, ask yourself what matters most to you, gather support, remind yourself of your choice everyday, and build up your inner strength. The main goal of this website was to improve your self image and to make yourself mentally strong enough that peer pressure won’t affect your happiness. While a bit generic, I believe that these suggestions would be beneficial to someone experiencing peer pressure. Though, I think it could have been a bit more specific on how to go about making these changes, I believe they would be successful. This source started with an anecdote about a female basketball player who stopped herself from excelling in her sport in order to keep the other members of her team from becoming upset with her. This made me think of a topic we talked about in class called compliance. This is when you do what the group wants you to do even when you don’t believe in it. It’s suggestion about improving your self-image would definitely help the extent to which you cared about fitting in with a group.
The third source I looked at was centered on the ways in which adults can be affected by peer pressure. I found this incredibly interesting because I had never associated peer pressure as something that adults experience as well. This source also addressed positive as well as negative peer pressure but was more focused on the latter. It mentioned how you are more likely to avoid peer pressure if you started doing so at a young age, however if you never ‘grew out of it’, it is unlikely that you ever will unless you make some changes. Many of the suggestions given by this source were similar to the others. Some that stood out to me were learning from your mistakes, having a wide range of friends that come from all different walks of life, and being assertive by making eye contact with your peers and starting statements with ‘I’. I especially agree with the point about learning from your mistakes. This would definitely help with someone’s success, especially if paired with some of the other suggestions from this source. Some of the points made by this source made me think of informational vs. normative influence. Especially informational influence, which is when you believe that you made the mistake and that the group must be right so you change your mind. Being assertive and making more ‘I’ statements would definitely help with this. It would help to improve your confidence and allow you to trust yourself more often.