Peer Pressure

Recognizing when you should say "no"

Peer pressure is one of the hardest things to resist in life, especially when it comes from friends.

People want to be liked, so they want to fit in and make everyone happy. So, when a group pushes someone in particular to do something, it seems like a perfect opportunity to fit in. 

However, those situations are not always the best. Sometimes, the situation presented is harmful in the short term, long term or both.  

A good example of bad peer pressure is a group of friends trying to convince another friend to go out drinking with them. The friend has an important test the next day, has not studied enough and therefore, kindly declines their offer.

This scenario is one example of the friend resisting peer pressure. If the friend were to go, he would not have studied enough and would be possibly hungover the next day. The combination of both is a good indication the friend would not do well with their test. The short term consequence would be underachieving for the test. The long-term consequence of getting a less than desired grade in the class could happen as well. 

So, what lesson can be learned from this scenario? From the perspective of the friend, recognize the consequences of falling for peer pressure and weigh them with the benefits of doing what is more helpful. Failing a test to have a night of fun with friends does not seem like a good trade-off. 

From the perspective of the group of friends, do not be the friend that pressures others to be irresponsible when it is obvious they should not. Peer pressure is hard enough to resist as it is. When it comes from friends it becomes harder since the one friend does not want to disappoint anyone. Friends should support one another, not hurt each other by focusing on self-interests. 

There can be peer pressure toward a positive outcome. Looking at another scenario, one friend is afraid of heights, but the friend group wants to go see the Grand Canyon. The pressure from the group is good because they are encouraging their one friend to overcome their fears to see something spectacular. 

Peer pressure can be a dangerous tool. On one hand, it can become a mob mentality and an ugly, negative fight. On the other hand, it can be used for a push in a better direction to invoke positive change. Either way, when under the pressure of a group, always weigh the outcomes of each. Be responsible, and look out for yourself primarily. Ultimately, the group does not always have the best intentions in mind.