Peers influence our lives, and that’s a fact. If you’ve ever acted against your will, despite knowing it’s bad for you because your friends asked you to, then you’ve experienced peer pressure.
Peer pressure, an example!
“Try it! Come on…,” said Sid.
Sid is a 15-year-old, class 9 student, who everybody thinks is super cool, owing to his fancy home, and toys. He, and three other boys were coaxing and taunting their classmate Raman to smoke a cigarette.
Heart pounding, Raman took the cigarette between his index and middle finger and took his first drag. He, like the others, coughed a couple of times, but continued to take drags – as his friends did.
Raman knew smoking was bad, particularly because it harms one’s health. He had seen public initiative advertisements which said so, and had tried to tell his friends not to. But Raman finally caved in when one too many friends asked him to. “Don’t be a sissy!,” they had said, “Everybody tries it at least once.”
For a growing child, making a decision on his/her own is a challenging task. And when people try to pressure you, it can be even more difficult. People your age, such as your classmates and other friends – are your peers. When they try to pressure you to do or not do something, it’s called peer pressure.
What is peer pressure?
It is but natural for one to listen and act in accordance with his/her peers. It’s one way to feel accepted or belong to a particular group. Kids and adults are likely to bow to peer pressure, if one doesn’t know how to cope with it. And your peers can influence you to act in a particular way, which can be negative and also positive.
For instance, there might be some peers who might force you to try smoking (like the above example) or bunk class – both of which can be detrimental in different ways.
On the other hand, somebody in your class might be organised with time clearly demarcated for studying, homework, playing and other extra-curricular activities. Hanging out with him/her might compel you too to have clear timings for work and play. This is positive peer pressure, because it forces you to adopt a good habit.
Why do people give into peer pressure?
All of us have a need to belong. And that’s exactly why some people give into peer pressure, because they have a need to fit in, and fear that not going along with the group might lead to the group not liking them. So the need for acceptance and a sense of belonging are the biggest drivers of peer pressure. And many a time, one might leave his/her better judgement behind, for the sake of just that.
Also, there are others who might be driven by curiosity to try something new, despite knowing its bad for them
Watch this space for more on peer pressure: Coming up next, how to cope with peer pressure.
Photograph via sxc.hu
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