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Peer Influence

Development Of Peer Influence, Negative Peer Influence, Positive Peer Influence, Family Relationships And Peer Influence


The successful formation and navigation of interpersonal relationships with peers is a process central to adolescent development in all cultures. In European-American cultural contexts, an everincreasing amount of each day is spent in the company of peers, from 10 percent as early as two years of age to 40 percent between the ages of seven and eleven (Voydanoff and Donnelly 1999). By high school, teens are spending more than half of their time in the company of their peers (Updegraff et al. 2001). Because adolescents spend a large amount of their time with peers, it is not surprising that they play a highly influential role in adolescents' lives. The credibility, authority, power, and influence of peers is greater during adolescence than at any other time in life.

Although the process of socialization and individuation occurs in all cultures, the developmental time frame, goals, and practices are often unique (Cooper 1994). In the United States, the adolescents' developmental path is characterized by a transfer in closeness from parents to peers. In comparison with the emphasis placed by European-American cultures on individualism, other cultures, Asian and African cultures in particular, accentuate the socialization of "interdependence, self-control, social inhibition, and compliance" (Chen et al.
p. 771). For example, Catherine Cooper (1994) notes that the peer-like mutuality with which adolescents negotiate with their parents during their high school years is a uniquely European-American construct. In contrast, the universes of family and friends remain more distinct for Asian and Mexican immigrants (Cooper et al. 1994). Studies on parent-child and adult mate relationships in Japan and the United States by Fred Rothbaum and colleagues (Rothbaum et al. 2000) suggest that each culture has a different path of development. In Japan, adolescence is characterized by more stable relationships with parents and peers.


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