Type of Peer Pressure

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Contributor: Gabrielle Applebury
peer pressure at a house party

Peer pressure can impact anyone but is especially common among teens. Understanding the type of peer pressure you or someone you know may be experiencing can help you understand how friends can influence decisions.

Negative Peer Pressure

Negative peer pressure occurs when friends negatively influence each other. Examples of negative peer pressure include trying to talk someone into trying drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and sex. Negative peer pressure can happen directly and indirectly.

Direct Negative Peer Pressure

Direct negative peer pressure is friends directly asking someone to do something. As you can imagine, this is a powerful form of peer pressure because it's much more difficult to resist. A teen is afraid of ridicule and losing his/her friend(s) if he/she doesn't do what is asked.

Indirect Negative Peer Pressure

Indirect negative peer pressure is not as powerful but can still greatly influence the decisions a teen makes. Indirect peer pressure is what one sees and hears other teenagers doing. Since others are wearing something or doing something, he/she should follow suit to fit into the group. No one necessarily asks someone to do anything, but it's an unspoken pressure that he/she feels.

This type may seem as though it would be easier for to resist but it's actually just as difficult because you may feel like it is not as "cool" if you don't do what the others are doing and it may make it more difficult to make friends.

Positive Peer Pressure

Positive peer pressure

This is the good type of peer pressure. It's when friends push you to do great things and to excel. A teen may feel empowered by his/her friends because of the positivity from them.

Of course, you probably wish all pressure from peers was positive, but the reality is that it's not as common as the negative form.

Examples of Peer Pressure

Here is an activity you can do to become aware of the different types of peer pressure. Review the following scenarios and ask if each one is an example of direct negative peer pressure, indirect negative peer pressure or positive peer pressure.

  • Your friend calls you at home and asks you if you've studied for tomorrow's exam. When you say that you don't want to study, your friend invites you over and says that you two can study together.
  • Your friends have started wearing low cut shirts and miniskirts to school. You don't feel comfortable showing so much skin but you don't want to look like the odd one out.
  • You're at the mall with your friends and they ask you to take something from one of the stores without paying for it.
  • Your friends ask you to skip class.
  • You're hanging out with your friends and they are all drinking. You start thinking about trying it since they all seem to be having a good time.
  • Imagine you are in a relationship in which your boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't treat you well, your friend tries to talk you into breaking up with him/her.
  • A celebrity you follow on Instagram posts images of an animal rescue and you think about supporting it and volunteering.
  • Someone you follow on Twitter tweets about how to get the perfect body. You second guess your appearance and feel stressed about how you look.
  • A friend texts you about a party and you're grounded. You think about going because they keep texting you about missing out.
  • Someone sends a Snapchat of a bunch of your friends ditching class. You think about meeting up with them.

Discuss each of these scenarios with others and come up with examples of current experiences. If you are helping someone else deal with peer pressure and the teen is reluctant to talk about it, don't worry, just be supportive and available when he/she needs you.

Dealing With Peer Pressure

It can be tricky to know how to handle peer pressure. Instead of making snap decisions think through the scenario as well as the positive and negative impact each outcome can have on your life.

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Type of Peer Pressure