What Causes Peer Pressure?

Peer pressure can have many causes, including curiosity, the desire to fit in and a lack of structure at home. Peer pressure is the influence that children and teens often feel to conform to certain standards or engage in certain practices. Common examples of choices influenced by peer pressure include using drugs or alcohol, fashion choices and skipping school.

Many children give in to peer pressure as a result of simple curiosity. They might experiment with practices such as drugs or sex in order to find out what all their peers are talking about. This is an example of passive peer pressure, in which kids recognize standardized behaviors among their peer group and then engage in these practices through imitation. Active peer pressure occurs when kids are directly confronted with an activity, such as a teenager who is offered a drink at a party. Teens often go along with these suggestions in order to fit in. Nearly all humans have an inherent desire to be accepted by others, and peer pressure is a clear example of this quality. Kids may also give in to peer pressure due to a lack of structure or stability in their home lives. Kids from chaotic households with less-defined sets of guidelines may seek out the structure and standards that come along with allegiance to a peer group.