--Original published at KatieMillerPSY105
For this spotlight blog, I choose to address peer pressure and the effectiveness of recommendations to resist peer pressure. I wanted to see what recommendations websites promote as the best method to resist peer pressure and how these methods compare with what we learned in class. I found three different articles from web sources that discuss peer pressure resistance methods for college students, athletes and adults.
The first article I found is called “Resisting Peer Pressure in College” by Molly Dutmers on the Inpathy Bulletin website. This article provides insight into peer pressure faced by college students and describes that the college years actually have a significant amount of peer pressure on young adults. The article discusses that “everything you know is questioned” (paragraph 2) the moment that you step foot on campus. The primary reason for the change in college is the new people a student will meet who have different values, beliefs, religions, ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic status. The college environment is one where people are exposed to new ideas, cultures and norms without the social institutions that they grew up with. Expectations are also set high for college in that it is supposed to be “the best four years of your life,” and the pressure to enjoy the college experience is very high (paragraph 3). With pressure to fit in with a new group, there may be instances where normative social influence will be high. In situations with new roommates and classmates, I may feel a stronger tendency to go along with behaviors even if I don’t necessarily believe that these actions are right.
The article provides some examples on avoiding compliance by holding onto values that you believe are right and to associate with people who have a similar moral compass (paragraph 8). I believe that this advice can be implemented as I start my college process. While I will be attending a school that is quite different from my background (urban setting vs. Central Pennsylvania, diverse student body with different races, religions and beliefs vs. a more homogenous environment), I was fortunate enough to find roommates with similar values and morals. Before selecting our roommates, we took mini profile tests to determine our preferences for people to live with. After finding people with similar interests, we then were able to have further discussions with potential roommates. I was able to have honest conversations with these students on their views on partying and other recreational activities. Since not all of us were in agreement on these behaviors, the group then split into different rooms based on their personal preferences. While I believe that college is a great opportunity to engage in new experiences, I do not want to go against my beliefs. I can still be friends with others who have different behaviors, and I will not judge them for their choices. However, I do want to be sure that I do not adjust my values to seek conformity.
The second article I found is one that gave advice to female athletes called “Female Athletes and Peer Pressure” on the Positive Performance Training website. This article provides a five-step solution to deal with group dynamics in female sports. The article discussed the author’s issue of negative feelings from teammates based on her individual success as an athlete. With her teammates wanting the author to fail, the author started holding herself back from success. This background seems similar to the Asch experiment where individuals change their outlook to fit in with the group. Rather than reach for individual goals, the author changed her behavior and expectations to conform with her team. This informational social influence negatively impacted the author’s desire for individual success. Her five-step solution to resisting peer pressure has some familiar points. Step one is to be aware that wanting to be liked is not a weakness unless it ruins your life. Acknowledging what is important to you and asking the right questions is the second step. The author suggests a more future approach to determine where you want to be in 10 years or whose happiness is most important. The third step is to find support in friends and family that are more similar to you and your beliefs. The fourth step is owning your choice to let go of peer pressure. The final step is to build inner strength.
While the article provides a five-step program, I believe that the advice comes down to holding onto one’s values and avoiding negative situations. This is like the other articles, but the message is not as succinct. I believe that the author has suffered from informational influence and changed her ideas and behavior to fit in with her team. She suggests avoiding this path by holding onto to your beliefs and not adjusting your outlook. The basketball team issue is interesting as one of the options we learned to offset peer pressure was to form smaller groups to avoid a group think mentality. Since the basketball team is a relatively small group to begin with, the author may have to change teams to find people with similar interests. I feel that this article provides more advice on building inner strength than to combat peer pressure.
The final article I read is “How to Deal with Peer Pressure as an Adult” found on the MentalHealthCenter website. This article tied in very well to our lessons learned in class. First, the article discusses that peer pressure can be positive or negative depending on the circumstances. Some of the positive impacts of peer pressure can be to quit smoking because of non-smoking friends or to pursue an advanced degree if your friends are going back to school (paragraph 5). Some of the negative impacts are drinking to fit in socially or to work overtime to afford lifestyles that your friends or siblings have (paragraph 3). These negative examples are described as behaviors that contract your true values. While adults tend to develop their own identities as they disengage from the influence of their parents, some still succumb to negative peer pressure if they had been heavily influenced as an adolescent (paragraph 8). The article describes the impact of negative peer pressure to mental health, including the loss of self-esteem and control over your life (paragraph 9). The article concludes with seven bullet points to handle adult peer pressure (paragraph 10). While most of these suggestions are not unique to adult peer pressure, they seem likely to be successful.
The suggestions include being true to yourself and reflect on core values, being assertive, having a wide range of friends, learning from mistakes, being mindful, not minding critics, and seeking people to affirm your values. These points encourage people to not change their core values which is one area where informational social influence can greatly impact conformity. If someone changes their ideas and behaviors to fit in, they have given up a part of their identity. If that change is harmful, the negative impacts can affect self-esteem and physical health. Another suggestion of keeping a wide range of friends can overcome unanimity as the more diverse a population is, the greater likelihood that they will not always agree. This diverse group of friends can also influence group size and allow a person the freedom to dissent by changing to a smaller group. The article encourages people to be open minded and to learn from mistakes while at the same time understanding what feels right and holding to those values. The article suggests to not pay attention to critics if you are acting true to yourself. That advice can help overcome compliance and normative social influence by not seeking to change behavior based on others’ opinions. This article reinforces many of the issues we learned about group behavior and provides realistic suggestions on avoiding negative peer pressure even as an adult.
Overall, I believe that these articles provided some good techniques on dealing with peer pressure. Most strategies can be best implemented if the individual is mindful of the potential harmful effects of peer pressure and is willing to hold onto their ideas and beliefs.