Acceptance by a peer group is crucial to adolescents, especially those who are younger. Seeking acceptance might spur them to change the way they think, speak, dress, and behave to make them feel they belong to the group. As a result, younger adolescents tend to hang out with peers who are like them (e.g., same race, ethnicity, family income, religion, or class schedule). Older adolescents may branch out to other groups as their social worlds diversify and expand.
Types of Peer Pressure
Peer pressure sometimes gets a bad reputation. The stereotype about this pressure stems from perceptions of delinquent and risky behaviors, including sexual activity and substance abuse, which some adolescents think will earn them greater acceptance among their peers. However, peer pressure can be beneficial, and peer relationships can be largely positive. Positive peer groups practice behaviors such as cooperating, sharing, resolving conflicts, and supporting others. The accepted standards, or norms, of positive peer groups, can help adolescents build relationship skills, hold favorable views of themselves, and have the confidence to take positive risks.