The famous martial artist and cultural icon Bruce Lee on peer pressure once said-
I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re are not in this world to live up to mine.
However, peer pressure today forces us to participate in activities to please the people around us aka our peers. Peer pressure directly influences an individual who gets encouraged to follow his peers by changing their attitudes, values, or behaviors. Peer pressure is the tendency to join the bandwagon; you lose your originality of thought and conduct. It is the pressure not to be left out and alone, and be pushed out from a group where you wish to belong.
What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure is a psychological phenomenon where a person, child or adult, gets influenced by the lifestyle of their peers and in turn hates their own lifestyle. It is the influence you feel from a person or group of people to do something you might not consider otherwise doing. Almost everyone experiences peer pressure in one form or the other at some point in their life.
A person with low self-esteem weak and low sense of confidence will doubt himself and fall victim to peer pressure. The opposite stands true as well, with a developed and strong sense of confidence and high self-esteem, the pressure will not pose a problem. One of the symptomatic ideas of peer pressure is the worry factor and the need to be accepted by your peers or society. Peer pressure can be felt or expressly stated. It is the push you feel to comply with the attitude, decisions, or behavior of your peers that share common characteristics.
Who are your peers?
Your peers are people or your group that surround you and are at your own level. The word peer refers to a role or relationship of equivalence between individuals within some system, relative to character or ability that confers status and money. They are people of the same age, the same social position, or those who have the same abilities as other people in a group.
In school, your peers are your classmates and your batch mates that affect you. In college, it is your friend circle that you hang out with, and at work, your peers are your colleagues that are at the same level as you are and are your closest competitors.
Common Examples of peer pressure
- Many teenagers feel peer pressure at home from their parents to achieve academic excellence. Most of the teenagers today choose streams or careers because of the pressure from their parents. They feel stressed to perform well in their scholastic performance to live up to their parent’s high expectations.
- “Come on, it’s just a beer! You won’t die. Just drink it. Everyone here is drinking, see I am drinking. Now don’t be such a baby.”- This is the kind of negative peer pressure that makes you do things that you are not comfortable doing and yet you do to get accepted by your peers.
- College students or even adults resort to taking drugs or smoking when forced by their peers and are shamed on for not being similar to their peers. “Just a puff” can make a non-smoker to chain smoker! People with low self-esteem often submit to such peer pressure.
- A more common example would be how we pretend to like a certain trending fashion or series or song that we don’t actually fancy but doubt our self for maybe having bad taste just because of peer pressure. How many of you have watched Game of Thrones, Friends, Money Heist, or Dark due to immense peer pressure from social media or your friends? I bet the number is huge!
- Going to a popular coaching or training institute because your friends are going there and you feel you’ll be left out if you do not join it as soon as possible.
- Buying really expensive accessories or gadgets that you can’t really afford but buy them anyway to get accepted in the “high-class” peer group.
- Teenagers seeing a lot of their friends hooking up think that everyone does that and it’s not a big deal. They often fall victim to this type of peer pressure and cross their boundaries risking themselves and their partners with the consequences of unprepared sex like sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
- Peer pressure can lead to people indulging in dangerous activities like rash driving, car surfing, or swimming in an unknown lake. Peers can say “It is okay if you are careful” but often we forget being rational and such risky behaviors lead to young people dying every day.
Is peer pressure harmful or beneficial?
It is easy to give in to peer pressure because everyone wants to fit in and get accepted by their peers. It is especially easy to give in when you feel like “if everyone is doing it, I should do it too.” The pressure can be more harmful than beneficial as it forces you to do something that you do not wish to do. Of course, peer pressure can be beneficial but only if you know what’s right for you and acknowledge your limits.
Negative effects of peer pressure
1. Peer pressure makes you take the wrong decisions that may not be in your favor
Peer pressure may compel you to take the wrong life decisions in life. For example, decisions like choosing a career, taking up a field, or deciding who to date can be affected if you succumb to the pressure from your peers. Taking up something without giving it much thought is bound to make you unhappy in the long run.
2. Bad habits are cultivated
Peer pressure forces you to do things that you are not comfortable with. It forces you to adopt a certain type of lifestyle even though you do not fancy it. Peer pressure is powerful and should not be estimated.
Peer pressure can turn a nerd to a party animal and a clean and sober guy to a drug addict and maniac. There are so many teenagers today that indulge in drinking and smoking because their peers force them too. At an early age, teenagers don’t realize that they are endangering their future by falling prey to this kind of pressure.
3. You lose your identity
Succumbing to peer pressure leads to a loss in individuality and a person’s ideology. Extreme peer pressure forces you to believe and follow what your peers think is right. Peer pressure may result in you doing something that doesn’t fit with your definition of right or wrong. It can lead you to lose your own taste forcing you to follow your peers blindly and adopt their taste, fashion, style, and essentially their way of living.
Positive effects of peer pressure
1. Peer pressure can lead to adopting good habits
Peer pressure is not always bad and may prove to be beneficial as well. If you have a good peer group that follows some healthy habits, for example, working out in the morning or reading regularly in the library or having a vegan lifestyle then in this case the pressure from your peers will lead you to adopt the healthy values as well. Positive peer pressure may teach you good habits and encourage you to follow them. You may be able to change yourself for the better. It may help you reflect upon yourself.
2. Exposure to the world
The lifestyle of your peers, their choices, and the way of their living gives you a glimpse of the outside world. How they perceive their different situations and react to it will expose you to the world around. Having a large group of peers open you up to a variety of human exposure. This also makes you reflect on your behavior and where you stand.
How to deal with peer pressure?
While you should embrace positive peer pressure and inculcate good qualities negative peer pressure can influence us in more ways than we think. It can affect the academic performance of students, fashion, and style choices; it can lead to alcohol and drug use, befriending people out of compulsion, and have a negative influence on making their life decisions.
Peer pressure can affect people of ages and backgrounds and can have serious repercussions in the long run thus it is very necessary to know how to deal with peer pressure.
1. Trust your gut on how you feel about things
However much of your friends might force you it is necessary to follow your gut and follow what you are feeling. If you think a particular activity (like smoking or drinking) is wrong for you then do not submit to peer pressure and walk away. You should know that ‘just a puff’ or ‘just a shot’ is never an ‘a’!
2. Plan ahead
If you are going to a party or in an unfamiliar place and are anticipating unfavorable situations then plan and think what you would if situations like these arise. Plan and think of these different scenarios and stick to your decisions firmly. In this way, you will not be taken aback if situations arise suddenly and will take the right decisions.
3. Talk and confront
Talk to the people who are forcing you and confront them with how you feel. Be verbal and confident and tell them that you feel uncomfortable and refuse to submit to such kind of negative peer pressure.
4. Have a trusted person always on call
If you are going to any unfamiliar situation where you anticipate encountering situations that would be hard to escape then always have a trusted person on hold and inform them in advance. Contact them immediately so that they can come and rescue you before the situation gets out of hand.
5. Learn how to so ‘No’
It is very important in this era to learn how to be assertive and say ‘no’ when you do not wish to do a particular thing. Surviving in the world today is not as easy as it used to be. You will encounter people at every turn that want to take your advantage or humiliate and force you to entertain themselves. Thus you should know how to stand strong on your wishes and refuse to fall victim to peer pressure.
6. Develop and work on your self-esteem
A person with high self-esteem and self-confidence will never fall prey to peer pressure. Have faith in yourself and trust your decisions enough to stay strong and escape the pressure. Building self-esteem will not only help you evade this pressure but also help in dealing with other situations in life.
7. Choose the right peer group
Choose the right peers that have the same interest as you, so you do not have to worry about facing unwanted situations and worry about how to refuse without fearing rejection or being considered an outcast. You should think very carefully and choose friends that have similar values and beliefs and then make the decision as it will affect you a lot.
8. Get help from a trusted adult
If you find yourself entangled in the same situations again and again and fall victim to peer pressure then you can confide in a trusted adult like a teacher, parents, and cousins. Come up with plans and strategies that will work conquering this pressure.
9. Understand that it is okay not to be a part of a group
You don’t always need to be a part of a peer group to survive. Don’t hurry and be part of a group that will impose negative peer pressure on you in the future. It’s okay to be alone for a while. Wait for the right time and you will find a group that is best for you.
Why do we feel and in many cases succumb to this pressure?
Peer pressure feeds on the things that scare us. Humans are social animals and they need to be a part of a group at all times. Peer pressure is the feeling and the pressure that you feel when you feel the need to “fit in” with this group of friends or peers or live up to the expectations of someone. Everyone desires to be liked and be accepted and celebrated in his group.
We also crave human-connection. People will go to crazy lengths to feel connected to a particular group even if they realize those activities aren’t meant for them. Peer pressure clouds your sense of judgment and overshadows your basic instincts of what is right and what is wrong.
Making good mates and into a group is important but sometimes trying to fit in a certain standard or to fit and match certain groups and people can be sour.
You need to understand that it’s okay to dress a certain way, it’s okay if you do not ‘Netflix and Chill’ and it is completely fine if you want to just sleep in on Friday night rather than go partying with your group of friends.
It’s more than okay if you do not get high and smoke and you do not need to get inked to be part of a crew. You don’t need fancy Adidas and Nike shoes to start working out and you don’t need to wake late and night to watch ‘those’ series your friends talk about.
Don’t pressurize yourself to be in a certain frame and accept yourself for you are. You must choose the right peers that you want to be influenced by who are a lot better when they allow a diverse membership and are willing to discuss and change. You decide!