Some characteristics of a peer group include shared beliefs, interests and preferences for specific activities. Peers within a group may identify with one another to develop a sense of identity and a positive self-concept. Adolescent peer groups also increase their members' sense of personal autonomy from their parents.
Peer groups may help to reinforce cultural norms for their members by demonstrating successful and unsuccessful ways of participating in culture. Teenagers who are part of peer groups may identify with a certain peer social type even without directly interacting with other peers in the same group. This allows them to make a statement about the type of person they are within the culture.
Teenagers may also join peer groups that reflect the views of the larger collective. The peer groups teenagers belong to provide a check that shows them whether they belong and fit in or whether they don't truly fit into the group. Peer groups also provide teenagers with support and direction as they move away from the childhood environment of their parental home. They are no longer influenced by their immediate family. Instead, they begin to conform to the norms within their peer group as they transition into the larger social environment of the world.