Peer pressure is the process in which individuals within the same group influence others in the group to engage in a behaviour or activity that they may not otherwise engage in. A peer can be any individual who belongs to the same social groups or circles as you and has some type of influence over you.

Peer pressure can be avoided by thinking about your actions and if you would participate in the behavior if your social circle was not influencing or pressuring you to do so. Also, if the idea of engaging in that activity makes you uncomfortable, it’s best to listen to your inner voice and not engage in such activities.

Who Experiences Peer Pressure?

Anyone regardless of age can have peers as peers usually come from a common social circle. Our peers tend to be those individuals with whom we identify the most with. As children and adolescents, our peers are our classmates and friends. As teens and young adults, our classmates, coworkers and even family members can be our peers.

As adults, our coworkers, spouses, friends of spouses can all be peers. Our peers can change as we get older and our definition of what constitutes a social circle can also change. Likewise, peer pressure can also be experienced at any age and in any situation. As children grow up, we often think about peer pressure on a continuum from childhood to young-adulthood.

Children and adolescents of any age can experience peer pressure in the form of engaging in risky behavior, name calling or bullying other children or breaking rules. The pressure these children face to conform to their social circle is often the only way they feel they can belong to that group. As we get older, these feelings of needing to conform can persist.

Adults of any age are not immune to experiencing peer pressure. Peer pressure in this age group can also include risky behavior, however the consequences are more grave than those of childhood risky behaviors. Adults can experience peer pressure at work as many adults spend a great deal of time at work and interacting with coworkers. This type of pressure can look like working the same long hours as others, persuading others to do something you wouldn’t want to do yourself and anything in between.

Types of Peer Pressure:

There are many types of peer pressure which can be experienced at any age. Since peer pressure involves communicating some type of message, the way in which that message is communicated can be varied. You may experience very direct and clear peer pressure, at times it may be only a strong feeling, sometimes it might sound fun and other times it can sound scary and even illegal.

There are many types of peer pressure, including:

1. Spoken Peer Pressure

This type of peer pressure involves one individual or a group asking another individual to participate in some type of behavior. In a group setting, the pressure felt is much stronger as there is power in numbers.

2. Unspoken Peer Pressure

This type of peer pressure involves an individual being exposed to certain behaviors, trends or choices of others and feeling a pressure to conform.

3. Direct Peer Pressure

This type of peer pressure is challenging as it is very specific to behavior-based conformity and can be spoken or unspoken. Direct peer pressure can often feel heightened because of our own discomfort of the environment we’re in at that time of experiencing direct peer pressure.

4. Indirect Peer Pressure

This type of peer pressure is less invasive on our internal voice to behave a certain way, however, it can validate a behaviour or activity we want to try but haven’t tried yet. It can be unspoken but also influence how we feel about ourselves.

5. Positive Peer Pressure

This type of peer pressure can be direct, indirect, spoken and/or unspoken. This is pressure felt in one-on-one situations or groups that yields positive results and healthier lifestyle choices.

6. Negative Peer Pressure

This type of peer pressure can also be direct, indirect, spoken and/or unspoken. This pressure can challenge individuals to do things they may not usually do and engage in such behaviours because others are doing so and it’s a way to belong.

How to Deal With Peer Pressure

There are many ways to deal with the various types of peer pressure you can experience. Some ways to handle it include first being aware of how you feel about the situation and environment you’re in when the peer pressure is happening. If you can pay attention to your emotions, you can often find yourself leaving a situation before you may be peer pressured into doing something you may not actually want to do.

Talking about these feelings and setting boundaries is another way to ensure you can stay comfortable in an environment. If your boundaries are not respected and the pressure continues, it can be a sign that your environment isn’t a place where you may be respected. This may help you think about the company you keep and help you start making choices where you’re in a company that respects you, your value system and boundaries.