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Peer Influence

Positive Peer Influence

Peer relationships can be a powerful positive influence in the lives of adolescents. Natural observations of adolescents indicate that most adolescents discuss options with their friends before reaching a consensus about what to do. Rarely is one adolescent pressured to conform to the rest of the group. Moreover, high school students in several large samples reported that their friends discouraged drug and alcohol use, delinquent activities, and other types of antisocial behavior more than they encouraged them; they also claimed their friends encouraged studying for school subjects more than they discouraged it (Brown, Clasen, and Eicher 1986). Some adolescents even display anticonformity, rejecting their peer's judgments, and making different decisions altogether. Friendships inherently limit the use and effectiveness of coercive pressure because they are relationships based on equality and mutual respect; consequentially, decisions are made by negotiation, not domination.

Adolescents choose friends who have characteristics or talents that they admire, which motivates them to achieve and act as their friends act. Friends encourage adolescents to study hard at school and can also help them think more creatively (Brown et al. 1986). High-achieving peers have positive effects on adolescents' satisfaction with school, educational expectations, report-card grades, and standardized achievement test scores (Epstein 1983). In Canada, 80 percent of graduates from high school had friends who believed completing high school was important, and only 2 percent had friends who thought this was unimportant (Statistics Canada 1993). Students with friends who like school, get good grades, and are interested in school are more likely to graduate high school (Ekstrom et al. 1986). Hence, having friends who believe that academic achievement is important is beneficial for adolescents.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaOther Marriage & Family TopicsPeer Influence - Development Of Peer Influence, Negative Peer Influence, Positive Peer Influence, Family Relationships And Peer Influence