Peer pressure can also have its positive effects on teenagers. Just as teenagers can be influence by their peers to engage in high-risk and unhealthy behaviors, they can also be influenced to make positive choices. Positive choices can include joining a volunteer project, getting good grades because their social group values good grades, trying out for sports, joining academic clubs, artist interests, and overall encouragement to succeed ("Peer pressure: it's," 2011). Social influence is a successful tool to promote positive behaviors.
The negative impacts of social influence, especially among teenagers, are more widely studied by psychologists and sociologists and their findings generally create more media attention. As teenagers strive for acceptance from their peers, it is understandable while teenagers would give in to the "pressure" to conform. For the majority of teenagers, fitting in means doing what the group is doing, whether it is smoking cigarettes, taking drugs, bullying, hazing, having sex, or vandalism. These are the types of stories and circumstances that are capable of drawing national attention as they highlight the dangers associated with negative impacts of social influence.
Social influences having negative implications have the potential to not only put the teenager at risk, but can be grounds for legal action, and put lives in jeopardy. Drug use among teenagers is significantly considered in close correlation with peer pressure. As previously mentioned, teenagers can struggle with impulse control and cannot visualize future consequences of their actions. When these factors are introduced to drug use, it can lead to addictive behaviors, in addition to other outcomes the teenager is not able or willing to anticipate. One research group studied the closeness of friendship within group influence in relation to drug use. The researchers studied a group of adolescents and performed a panel study of the effects of peer approval and behavior on cigarette smoking, drinking, and drug use. The study showed that teenagers were influenced more by their friends than other individuals that happened to be in their age group, so much so that friends were the best predictors of drug use. In addition, the individual distinguished as the "best friend" held an even higher degree of influence. The researchers also distinguished a noted difference between drug initiation vs. drug maintenance. From the study, it was apparent that several good friends were influential to begin drug initiation, while the best friend played a vital role in the maintenance of drug use (Morgan, & Grube, 1991). The implication of the study shows peer pressure to not be a blanketed concept, but varies in concentration between the closeness of friends.
Social influence is a social construct that inevitably impacts every human, as all humans develop thoughts, feelings, and actions in correlation to the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others. All humans develop in a social world and must adapt to changing social situations. Teenagers comprise the age group that is considered one of the most impressionable groups to social influences. Teenagers easily fall to peer pressure, an aspect of social influence, in order to fit in and be accepted by their peer groups. The failure to anticipate consequences and lack of risk assessment are the reasons why teenagers are more susceptible to succumb to pressure. Peer pressure, however, can have positive and negative influences. Just as teenagers can join volunteer projects and improve their grades to mimic their friends, they can also use drugs and drink alcohol because their "friends are doing it." The teenager's closest friends have been studied as a significant indicator of drug use and influence with the initiation and maintenance of use. The results of social influence and ultimately peer pressure are a product of teenagers determined to be accepted by their friends and peers.
Caildini, R, & Trost, M. (1998). Social influence: social norms, conformity, and compliance. In D. Gilber (Ed.), The Handbook of Social Psychology (pp. 151-181). New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Hirshleifer, D. (1995). The blind leading the blind: social influence, fads and informational cascades. In k Ierulli (Ed.), New Economics of Human Behaviour (pp. 188-215). Cambridge University Press.
Morgan, M, & Grube, J. (1991). Closeness and peer group influence. British Journal of Social
Psychology, 30, 159-169.
Peer pressure: it's influence on teens and decision making. (2011). Retrieved from http://headsup.scholastic.com/articles/peer-pressure-its-influence-on-teens-and-decision-making/