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Peer Pressure

Essay by review  •  February 23, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,057 Words (5 Pages)  •  758 Views

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The developmental influences one experiences though out his or her life, can affect that person's life entirely. As children initially look up to their parents and family as their primary models of living, the value of their influence abruptly diminishes when the child is exposed to new behaviors that they learn from other children and peer groups. According to Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach, a peer group is defined as a group of individuals roughly the same age linked by common interests (Henslin, 2004, p. 456). It may not always seem that the impact that peer groups have on people is affective as it really is. However, the pressure that develops from peers tend to dominate the lives of most people, and can impact a person's way of thinking, acting, and the overall formation of one's identity.

Similar to Henslin's definition of a peer group, in Theodorson's Modern Dictionary of Sociology, a peer group is referred to as

A primary group, that is, a close, intimate group, composed of members who have roughly equal status. Children's play groups are peer groups and are important to children in forming models for identification because they are relatively free from adult definitions and adult authority. While the term is most often used to refer to children's or teenage groups, it also applies to adult groups in which the members have approximately equal status (Theodorson, 1969, p. 294).

As it is mentioned that this term usually is referenced to adolescents, it can also applied to adults as well. It can be simply defined as contemporaries of the same status (Princeton University, 2003).

Throughout the years, there has been a great deal of research that centers on the social structures that establish within communities. Much of the focus revolves around youth who are of high-status. In the article Understanding Popularity in the Peer System by Cillessen & Rose, the topic of popularity between peer groups in schools is discussed. It is expected that within these groups, a social hierarchy forms and those who are at the top are the most influential. There are there is a distinction that is made between two groups of popular youth: those, who are of high-status, and are legitimately well-liked and those who may be popular, but not necessarily liked. In a study of two high profile eighth graders, one was popular, athletic, but avoided confrontations and resolved problems with a prosocial attitude. On the contrary, the other boy was intimidating and had the ability to manipulate situations with his threatening appearance. Through observation of two high-profile eighth grade boys, Cillessen explains that, many of their peers "imitate [their] style of dress and taste in music and would like to be better friends with [them] so [they] could be part of the in-crowd" (Cillessen et Al., 2005, p.1). It is evident that popular kids have a prominent impact on those who are of less status then them. In this article, the author uses the concept of peer groups in a different style used in the text book, as it is mentioned that children often imitate the popular boys' style to conform to the in crowd, rather than being independent and connect with people based common interests.

In addition, the second article Positive Peer Groups, discusses the importance of model and guidance from friends and family. Richard Quigley explains that in order for children to become functional young citizens, they must be exposed to a series of appropriate child developmental stages. Although, children often learn new behavioral skills through the influence of their parents, "peer influence is a considerably potent force in the lives of teenagers" (Quigley, 2004, p.1). Many children often feel need to be accepted by others and can go to great extents to be a part of a group, even though if the interests of that child do not relate with the majority of the group. In many cases, many of the weaker and less experienced

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