Peer Pressure - Therapy Blog (2023)

Peer Pressure - Therapy Blog (1)group pressureIt occurs when a peer group exerts direct or indirect pressure to take certain actions. The term "mates" generally refers to people we meet in real life who have asocial stateFor you. However, peer pressure can also be exerted by the greaterculture. For example, television shows can convey to the audience an acceptable way to behave, even if the people on television do not know each individual whom they are influencing.

Peer pressure can cause not only changes in behavior, but also in thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Although peer pressure is most often used to describe peer influence on teens, everyone can be subject to peer pressure. When a person was pressured to adopt unhealthy habits,a counselorit can help the individual to reassess and change their behavior.

types of peer pressure

Peer pressure can be active or passive.

  • active peer pressureDescribes a situation in which one person tries to convince another to do something. For example, two friends might encourage a third friend to drive over the speed limit, since "everyone drives that fast."
  • passive peer pressurerefers to modelingimitated behavior. Someone with multiple friends who text while driving is more likely to text and drive. They might argue that their friends text and drive so it can't be that bad.

Passive peer pressure, sometimes called unspoken peer pressure, can have more of an influence on behavior than active peer pressure. Silent pressure can be harder to resist because it can seem easier to go along with the crowd in order to fit in, especially when there isn't overt pressure to do something. People who don't feel pressured to do something may have a harder time finding an opportunity to say no.

Many people consider peer pressure to be a negative thing, but this is not always the case. People, especially teens and young adults, may be more likely to doprosocial behaviorswhen they see people their age doing the same things. For example, research has shown that teens with volunteer friends are more likely to volunteer.

Other examples of positive behavior may include:

  • Attend school regularly and participate in classes.
  • Set aside time for physical activity
  • practice kindness andcompassion

Peer pressure among young people

While peer pressure is often seen as something that happens primarily duringadolescence, research suggests that peer pressure begins in elementary school, usually around age 9.

At this age, research suggests, group dynamics begin to form among children, and some may be excluded from the larger group. Children may worry about balancing a sense of loyalty to their friends with compassion and fairness toward others.

Those who start to resist peer pressure may find it more difficult to go against the group over time. But it's important to realize that younger children not only face peer pressure, they are capable of coping with it. Parents and teachers who are aware of peer pressure among young children can start helping their children develop the tools to resist it earlier, which can reduce its impact.

Peer pressure and addiction

Research has long shown that peer pressure can increase someone's risk of experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. Some people are more affected by peer pressure than others, just as some people are more likely to suffer from it.addictionWhat others. While some people may try alcohol or drugs once or twice and decide it's not for them, other people who start using a substance may find it difficult to stop. In some cases, people may continue to use the substance as part of a social activity, such as drinking at parties or smoking because everyone else is taking a smoke break.

Silent peer pressure can play a significant role in substance use.If friends drink, smoke, or use drugs, someone who would avoid using these substances on their own may feel that participating will help them fit in with their friends. Seeing colleagues using substances regularly can also give the impression that the substances are safe to use or will not have negative effects.

unspoken pressure toaccordingcan play an important role in substance use. According to a 2012 study, passive peer pressure has a greater effect on teen smoking than active peer pressure. In other words, teens with friends who smoke are more likely to also smoke.

Positive peer pressure, on the other hand, can help prevent substance abuse and dependence. Research suggests that simply having friends who choose not to smoke, use drugs or drink alcohol can make young people less likely to use substances.

Peer pressure experiments

Numerous experiments have documented the susceptibility of even highly intelligent people to peer pressure. Some of the better known experiments include:

  • Asch conformity experiments: This demonstrated that a test subject would give incorrect answers to a vision test if pressured to do so by incorrect answers from his peers. The test revealed that one pair exerts minimal pressure and that pressure is maximized with four pairs. More than four pairs had the same effect as four pairs.
  • The third wave experiment: This was a history teacher's experiment designed to teach students about the allure of fascism. The teacher progressively implemented more totalitarian, disciplinary and forceful measures in the classroom. On the fourth day of the experiment, the students were ready to join a national totalitarian movement and showed incredible loyalty to the false regime created by the teacher.

How to deal with peer pressure

Dealing with peer pressure can be difficult. It can be hard to figure out the right way to say no to friends and classmates, especially if you're worried about possible consequences likebullying, socialisolation, orejection.

Consider trying some of the following when faced with peer pressure:

  • Practice the answers beforehand.If you're around people who drink or use drugs and you already know you don't want to, think of some ways to say no. Bringing your own drink is a possible solution.
  • Bring a friend.If you know you will be in a situation where you may face negative peer pressure, bring a friend or sibling. It can be helpful to have someone you trust who can offer support.
  • Plan a security phrase with a friend or parent.Create a code that you can use if you need a ride home or feel stuck in an unsafe situation.
  • Listen to your instincts.Know that you can always leave if you don't feel comfortable. Call a friend or parent if you don't feel safe. If you constantly find yourself in difficult situations, one solution may be to spend less time with people who pressure you to do things you don't want to do.

If peer pressure has negatively affected your life,a therapistcan offer compassionate and confidential help.


  1. American Psychological Association.APA Concise Dictionary of Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
  2. Ash's experiment. (North Dakota.). Stages of the Scientific Method, Research and Experimentation. Retrieved from
  3. Choukas-Bradley, S., Giletta, M., Cohen, GL, and Prinstein, M.J. (2015). Peer influence, peer status, and prosocial behavior: an experimental investigation of peer socialization of adolescent volunteer intentions.Magazine of Youth and Adolescence, 44(12). Retrieved from
  4. Encourage positive peer pressure. (North Dakota.). Arrive in Australia. Retrieved from
  5. Harakeh, Z. and Vollebergh, W.A.M. (2012, March 1). The impact of active and passive peer influence on young adult smokers: an experimental study.Addictions to drugs and alcohol, 121(3). Retrieved from
  6. Harwood, R., Miller, SA y Vasta, R. (2008).Child psychology: development in a changing society. . . . Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
  7. Jones, R. (sd).The Third Wave, 1967: An Account - Ron Jones. Retrieved from
  8. Killen M, Rutland A, Abrams D, Mulvey KL, and Hitti A (2012, November 19). Development of intra and intergroup judgments in the context of conventional moral and social norms.child development, 84(3). Retrieved from
  9. Lyness, D. (2015) Peer pressure. Retrieved from
  10. Rakestraw, M. (2017, March 23). The power of positive group pressure. Retrieved from

Last update:11-03-2019

  • Leave a comment
  • Peer Pressure - Therapy Blog (2)

    Monica Sanchez

    February 19, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Good night. Can I have permission for this peer-influenced article to support my research? I hope you reply soon. Thank you.


  • Peer Pressure - Therapy Blog (3)

    Monica Sanchez

    February 19, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Good day! I am a BS Psychology major undergraduate who was seeking permission for this article to support my study of peer influence. I hope to see your answer soon. Thank you.


  • Peer Pressure - Therapy Blog (4)


    April 7, 2018 at 10:21 p.m.

    Monique, I am interested in learning more about positive peer pressure and was wondering if you have found anything interesting in your studies on this topic? I read somewhere that when dealing with sociopathic behavior, peer pressure had more influence on positive behavior than most therapies. I would like to know more about how this engages communities and individuals to get involved when there is bad behavior around them. Your opinion matters!!!


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