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Conformity implies uniformity, a product of efforts designed to avoid being seen as different. Adolescence has long been viewed as a period of heightened conformity to peers, and resemblances between peers are assumed to be strongest during adolescence. Examples of these kinds of behavior would be when a teenager hands another teen an alcoholic Top 5 Advantages of Staying in a Sober Living House drink, or makes a sexual advance, or looks at another student’s paper during a test. The other teen is put in a position of having to make an on-the-spot decision. Another investigation, completed in 2011, looked at the effect of peer pressure surrounding sexual activities in the youth surrounding US born Mexicans and Mexico born Mexicans.


Puberty-related increases in gonadal hormones have been linked to a proliferation of receptors for oxytocin within subcortical and limbic circuits, including the amygdala and striatum (Spear, 2009). Oxytocin neurotransmission has been implicated in a variety of social behaviors, including facilitation of social bonding and recognition and memory for positive social stimuli (Insel & Fernald, 2004). Peers can include people you are friends with, go to school with, work with or meet at an event.

  • Role modeling good emotional self-regulation may also help your child stick to their own values when it comes to peer pressure.
  • Many adults are susceptible to drinking too much because their friends are doing it, or putting work before family because they’re competing with other people in their office for a promotion.
  • In this section, we provide evidence for the claim that conformity peaks during adolescence.
  • Optimal distinctiveness theory (Brewer, 1991) holds that individuals seek balanced self‐views, integrated into a cohesive group of like‐minded others but different in ways that highlight a unique individual identity.

Adolescence as a Period of Heightened Susceptibility to Peer Influence

Friends who encourage drug use, even subtly, may not understand the challenges of addiction or the complexities of recovery. It’s important to consider the quality of your friendships and their impact on your sobriety journey. Being aware of, and carefully choosing the influence of peers that will lead to healthy and happy experiences is a lifelong process. As parents, we must be mindful of the impact of peer pressure on ourselves as our children will be observing and take notice.

indirect peer pressure

Peer Influence Promotes Similarity and Enhances Compatibility

  • This influence can be particularly impactful when it comes to decisions about drug use, sobriety, and undergoing therapy for addiction recovery.
  • The theory of reasoned action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) holds that behaviors are a function of intentions, and intentions are a product of attitudes about behaviors and perceptions of subjective norms.
  • Indirect Peer Pressure —indirect peer pressure is subtle but can still be toxic.

Although PP is an elusive concept, it can be considered a decreasing function of a given individual’s socio-cultural distance from the group. Thus, an individual’s opinion may be influenced more strongly by the pressure exerted by those socio-culturally closer to her. Consensus is well documented across the social sciences, with examples ranging from behavioral flocking in popular cultural styles, emotional contagion, collective decision making, pedestrians’ walking behavior and others9,10,11,12. Influence should be particularly strong in friendships and affiliate groups, because adolescents invest in these relationships and have the most to lose from their loss. Adolescents are quick to adjust their behavior when they enter a new peer group, putting distance between themselves and the group they have left, so as to better resemble new friends and affiliates (Berger & Rodkin, 2012; Kiuru et al., 2010). The process differs from selection similarity in that adolescents are changing their behavior—just before or just after (the timing is not altogether clear) joining a new friendship group—in ways that increase similarity (Popp et al., 2008; Poulin et al., 2011).


Being pressured by peers can be a stressful experience, whether it happens in person or online. It may shake your sense of identity and self-confidence and may contribute to excessive worry. In addition, prolonged exposure to this type of stress and tension may be a factor in mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. Peer pressure is any type of influence, positive or negative, that comes from a peer group.

indirect peer pressure

Healthy supportive family relationships, behaviors that demonstrate responsibility, openness to dialogue, freedom from prejudice, and avoidance of judgment are often components that develop a positive influence on adolescents. Positive peer pressure, on the other hand, can help prevent substance abuse and addiction. Research suggests simply having friends who choose not to smoke, use drugs, or drink alcohol can make it less likely young people will use substances. Knowing the types of peer pressure there are is the first step to understanding what can be done to resist giving in. There are many coping skills for teens that can be used to deal with the pressures of being influenced by peers. Let us remember that dealing with peer pressure is not an individual task but a collective one.