What is Peer Pressure?

We all need to make several choices each day. Who should we be friends with, what subjects should we choose, where should we work, how much money should we save, where should we buy our new house, are all decisions that we need to take each day. And, no choice or decision is completely right or wrong. If that was not confusing enough, we all have a huge circle of peers, including our friends, co-workers, and those we interact with on social media, who influence our decisions directly and indirectly. So much that before we make a decision, we think if we will be liked or respected for it by our peers. This influence of other people on how we behave and act is known as social pressure or peer pressure. Peer influence is also defined as a feeling that one must do the same things as the people in our social circle and age group to be accepted as a part of that group. 

Who experiences peer pressure?

Though peer pressure is a common part of growing up, it doesn’t end there. Adults are just as exposed to this as much as children and adolescents are. We face it regardless of age. As a child or a youth, you face peer influence from your classmates, cousins, and friends. As adults, this circle expands to our co-workers, spouse & their family, social media groups, and family & relatives.

What are some examples of peer pressure?

Here are some peer pressure examples that we commonly experience where are encouraged to both positive and negative influence:

Negative peer pressure examples:
  • Try risky behavior such as smoking, drinking, taking drugs, and underage driving.
  • Fight with someone.
  • Bullying or teasing someone.
  • Wear clothes that you don’t like.
  • Skipping school and homework.
  • Buying an expensive object because everyone in your group has that.
  • Sending your kids to only a certain school.
  • Conforming to certain political views.
Positive peer pressure examples:
  • Being more friendly and outgoing.
  • Reading more.
  • Studying hard to get that coveted job.
  • Exercising to remain fit.
  • Volunteering your time for socially productive activities.
  • Saving money to buy something that you have aimed for.

What are the Different Types of Peer Pressure?

Did you know that there are as many as 5 different types of peer pressure? These include:

  • Spoken peer pressure: In this type of peer pressure, you are asked, suggested and persuaded to act in a certain way. Due to its pressure-building nature, the chances of conforming to this are pretty high.
  • Unspoken peer pressure: This type of social pressure has more to do with actions and behaviors that are exhibited to make a person conform. Some peer pressure examples here could be the choice of dress, joining a particular team, etc.
  • Direct peer pressure: This type of peer pressure can be both spoken and unspoken and is mostly behavior-centric.
  • Indirect peer pressure: This type of social pressure is less encroaching but works by way of validating an activity or behavior. It can be both spoken and unspoken.
  • Negative peer pressure: Any influence, whether spoken/unspoken, direct/indirect, when coaxing a person to indulge in something that’s against their values and morals is known as negative peer pressure.

What are the effects of peer pressure?

 Peer pressure, whether negative or positive, can have a major impact on a persons behavior and mindset.

These are some negative peer pressure effects:

  • Low self-confidence
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of negativity, anxiety, panic, or depression
  • Poor relations with peers
  • Distractions
  • Being overtly image-conscious
  • Always comparing yourself with others

Here are some positive effects of peer influence:

  • Feeling secure and having a sense of belonging
  • Improved confidence, positivity, and outlook towards life.
  • Exploring new interests and friend circles

How to Handle Peer Pressure?

Fortunately, there are several practical ways in which you can handle peer pressure. And, with regular practice, this can be inculcated in your behavior and practice. Here are some smart ways on how to deal with peer pressure:

  • The key to handling peer influence is not to avoid it but to instill confidence in yourself that you will be able to face it. A great way is to practice saying no with conviction.
  • The most important way to handle peer pressure is to pay close attention to how you feel. If your gut instinct warns you about behavior or situation, indulging in it probably is not a good idea.
  • Be clear about your standing and communicate clearly to the person who is influencing you. Letting people know how you feel and being assertive is often the best way to make them stop.
  • If the peer influencer continues to pressurize you, it is okay to break communication with them. What helps is having a group of friends that is more similar to your set of values and beliefs.
  • Wondering how to manage stress? Never be too harsh on yourself for the mistakes made in the past. Be easy on yourself and have an open mind that helps you learn from your mistakes and understand things that trigger you. This will help you stop repeating the same mistakes and avoid indulging in things that you want to avoid.
  • Rise above your critics and don’t get affected by what people think and say about you. Carve your path while standing for your choices.
  • Wondering how to overcome the anxiety of peer pressure? Cultivate a circle of people who affirm your beliefs, lifestyle, choices, and values without judging you. This will help instill confidence in yourself and avoid feelings of stress and panic. 

Can Peer Pressure be Productive?

It is needless to say that peer pressure can have a lot of influence on a person. However, there are ways to harness this influence and make it work for yourself. If properly channeled, peer pressure can be inspirational and work for you. Practicing mindfulness and observing the positives in people motivates you to do better. This will propel you to work twice as hard and become the best version of yourself.‍

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