Type of Peer Pressure

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
A teen affected by peer pressure.

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 is friends negatively influencing 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

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.

Type of Peer Pressure Activity

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.

  • You 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.

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.

Type of Peer Pressure