The Impact of Peer Pressure in Adolescents and how to Cope with it

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those whose behavior is affected in their given circumstance. It basically focuses on the mental or behavioral characteristics of an individual or group. In other words, psychology analyzes the mind and behavior of individuals and groups and it plays a role in how people react or interpret a particular field of information or activity. In essence, psychology is used to analyze and explain important matters in the mental and behavior state of mind of the lives of people, communities, and the world. In every society, there’s many public issues that needs to be address and how we go about them is what makes a difference. The purpose of this research paper is to understand how peer pressure and other related issues affect people like children, adolescents and how it associates with their academic endeavors and stress.

Peer pressure is something that can affect people in many ways and can even bring them down to a negative state of mind. That is why it is important for people to be able to manage stress and know different methods on how to deal with it and go about it despite facing social pressures. It can range from the type of personality an individual has and how it can play a role in their daily lives. According to chapter eight from the book by Branscombe and Baron, Social Psychology, it states that, “In more contemporary times, personality has come to mean a conglomeration of several characteristics – behaviors, expressions, moods and feelings – that are perceived by others. The complexity of one’s personality is thought to be shaped by genetic factors, family dynamics, social influences, and a wealth of personal experiences” (Branscombe and Baron, pg. 261). Meaning, the way individuals’ personalities are shaped is based on a number of factors such as one’s biological nature, family makeup, social elements, and past experiences. This can affect an individual’s personality in terms of how they react to their genetic makeup, household influence, social standards and past experiences.

According to chapter 10 from the book by Branscombe and Baron, Social Psychology, it states` that, Provocation is one of the elements in “The Role of Emotions in Aggression”. For instance, someone having a bad day due to the fact their marriage ended, can be in an aggressive state of mind at work, if they fail to control their emotions. However, if that individual is able to control his emotions, he would be functional at work and no one would be able to tell he or she is going through a divorce. It is important for people to be able to control their emotions as there is a time and place for them and allowing them to take over can bring consequences to people (Branscmbe and Baron pg332-33).

Another interesting fact mentioned in the chapter is that, “Many health-related problems are thought to be directly tied to our inability to recognize and appropriately express our emotions. Meaning, as humans it is natural for us to experience stress but how we interpret it, is what determines how we would go about it when expressing it. For example, a student stressing a final exam can feel anger, which would probably cause him to take his anger out on his instructor as a form of outlet due to the stress their feeling. Or fear, which would most likely cause him to miss class the day of the exam in order to avoid facing the exam. Anger and fear are known to be two sides of the “same coin” and are emotions that caused by a stimuli apparent to be a danger at a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual level, or possibly a mix of these. Both of these emotions are associated with stress response and it’s important for people to be mindful of them in order to add to their stress or placing themselves into an inconvenient circumstance. People who can’t control their emotions or ventilate it correctly are categorized as one of the following: somatizer, self-punisher, exploder, or under handler. These emotions happen to be survival emotions, as it connects to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. Anger results to fighting in order to “survive” and fear triggers the “flight response”.

When individuals go through stress it isn’t something that happens to people during bad times only, but can occur during good times as well. For example, a high school student that is anticipating graduation but is fearful they may not meet the requirements. However, once confirmed they are graduating, they can be overjoyed to the point that the stress hormone oxytocin in their brain can take effect. Based on chapter six from the book Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being, by Brian Luke Seaward it states that, “… there is another emotion associated with stress: joy and happiness, also known in stress circles as eustress. The emerging field of positive psychology has placed joy and happiness as a big X on the psychological treasure map” (Seaward, pg. 141). Meaning, stress isn’t only composed of anger and fear. Joy and happiness is viewed as the positive aspects of stress and are better identified as eustress. “… the pursuit of happiness is a hot commodity in the age of twenty-first century stress” (Seaward, pg. 141). The rise of positive psychology has placed a lot of emphasis on joy and happiness in order for individuals to obtain an emotional balance in their life.

Based on a journal article called, “Mindfulness, Quality of Life, and Severity of Depressive Symptoms Among Patients with Schizophrenia and Patients with Major Depressive Disorder” by Rayan and Ahmad Hussein Rateb, it provides a definition for mindfulness. It states that, “Mindfulness is defined as paying attention in a nonjudgmental manner to one’s emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations in the present moment, with maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness and acceptance of what is going on in the surrounding environment…” (Rayan & A. H. R., 2017). This quote from the article defines someone who is in control of their emotions and unaffected by inside forces, while at the same time, they are behavior is not affected by outside forces. They instead observe the situation and act accordingly as they are expected to, despite their personal emotions towards the circumstance. “The non-judgmental acceptance of a stressful situation decreases stress by enabling observation of negative thoughts and emotions that emerge during the situation without engagement with these thoughts and emotion… a simple mindfulness of breath exercise may involve sitting in a chair or on the ground, practicing deep breathing, nonjudgmentally observing body sensations in the present moment, and redirecting attention back to the present moment when distraction occurs…” (Rayan & A. H. R., 2017). It is evident that accepting the circumstance that causes one’s stress decreases as one is embracing the situation by acknowledging it. This enables individuals to do exercises such as practicing deep breathing or counting until a specific number can reduce stress and allow individuals dealing with the situation to act accordingly.

Based on chapter six from the book Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being, by Brian Luke Seaward, depression is defined as, “A state of mind where thoughts are clouded by feelings of despair. Physiologists suggest that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance; psychologists suggest that depression is the result of unresolved stress emotions (Anger turned inward)” (Seaward, pg. 140). In other words, depression occurs when individuals are overwhelmed and affected either within themselves or by outside factors negatively. Meaning, they can have low-self-esteem, question their self-worth, and insecurities overwhelm their mind. Many social factors that occur in our society impacts individual’s emotions in many ways. Adolescents in particular, are seen going through a lot of stress and studies show how it contributes to their academic performance. These social issues are forms of stress factors that hinders adolescents and children’s performance in school in many ways.

One social issue is the obesity rate that is occurring within the United States, which can play a negative role in the lives of children and adolescents in many ways and add to their stress. Based on “Longer Exposure to Obesity, Slimmer Chance of College? Body Weight Trajectories, Non-Cognitive Skills, and College Completion”, it states that, “While one of these studies investigated how different weight trajectories are linked to health outcomes in adulthood… no weight trajectory research has examined the impact of adolescent weight development on the likelihood of finishing college education.” (Cheng, 2014).  This shows basically how children going into adolescence stress can affect their academics in terms of moving forward based on their weight. In other words, weight can play an indicator whether or not a child who’s entering adolescence can have the potential to graduate and attend college. For example, a child’s self-esteem can be low and can cause them to shy away from completing their studies based on how they feel society perceives them in a negative way due to their obesity.

Another interesting point depicted in the journal is that, “Most research adopts a gender lens when investigating consequences of obesity, since the social consequences of excessive weight tend to be more negative for women than for men…” (Cheng, 2014). It is important for people to understand that when it comes to getting statistical information, gender does play a factor in the outcome. For instance, women tend to be affected in a more negative matter when it comes to weight than men do. Weight issues can be more impacting on women since they are the ones who go through big changes such as when they get pregnant or have a lot of hormones that can affect their eating habits as well as their metabolism overall.

Bullying is also a factor that contributes to the stress in students’ in relation to the completion of their education. Based on the article, “Adolescents’ Perspectives of Youth Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Prevention” by Emily Berger, Penelope Hasking and Graham Martin, it states that, “Although equally prevalent in males and females (Muehlenkamp & Gutierrez, 2004), males are more likely to hit themselves and females are more likely to cut themselves (Whitlock, Eckenrode, & Silverman, 2006). Primarily used to manage intense emotions, NSSI is associated with adverse events (e.g., bullying, childhood abuse; Nock, 2009), and those who engage in NSSI are at elevated suicide risk…” (Berger, Hasking & Martin, 2017). Due to factors like bullying or traumatic experiences, males and females manage intense emotions differently. Males have the tendency to hit themselves, while women cut themselves physically.

There are situations where both males and females resulted to these extremes due to the bullying or childhood abuse they had experienced in the past. In most cases, it occurs due to a child’s or adolescent’s weight or physical appearance. The article also pointed out that, “Increasing awareness of potential negative consequences may be particularly helpful when educating adolescents” (Berger, Hasking & Martin, 2017). This quote puts emphasis on the concept of raising awareness overall because it can end up helping adolescents on how to cope with their issues and ultimately prevent them from harming themselves physically. It is evident that individuals need to be mindful of other people’s feelings because it can lead them to give up on their dreams, educative endeavors, or far worse, their own life.

Students who drop out of school don’t all necessarily drop out on their own will but probably based on their circumstance and emotional state of mind. According to “Routes and Reasons Out, Paths Back: The Influence of Push and Pull Reasons for Leaving School on Students’ School Reengagement”, it mentions that, “The fact that students drop out of high school for different reasons has been understood for decades (Cairns, Cairns, & Neckerman, 1989; Combs & Cooley, 1968; Gambetta, 1987; Hill, 1979; Wehlage & Rutter, 1986). Often this work highlights one reason, for instance, pregnancy, employment, or school connections (Carter, 2005; Mihalic & Elliott, 1997; Upchurch & McCarthy, 1990). Grouping the reasons for dropping out into either school factors that push a student out of school, or individual factors that pull a student out of school is a relatively new way of conceptualizing the process of dropout…” (Boylan & Renzulli, 2017). Based on these facts, it is quite clear that some students drop in fear of how they might be viewed by their peers, or due to circumstances where they go through some drastic changes or experiences like pregnancy or bullying.

Not enough emphasis is put on the concept of bullying as it is basically a way of harassing and discriminating someone based on their looks, or who they are. The article also states that, “If a student who once dropped out returns to complete their secondary education, such negative effects may be ameliorated” (Boylan & Renzulli, 2017). This means that it is actually quite difficult for adolescents and people in general to go back to school and complete their education. This may be due to them feeling “too old” or a sense of “rejection” from the school atmosphere as well as the problems going on in their own personal life.

According to the article, “The Gendered Monitoring of Juvenile Delinquents: A Test of Power-Control Theory Using a Retrospective Cohort Study” by Corina Schulze and Valerie Bryan, they state that, “… a troubling array of family conflict was identified in the youths’ files. The presence of any abuse was identified for 184 youth, 62 girls and 122 boys. For girls, abuse was mentioned in the files in exactly 50% (31) of the cases, and about 24% (29) of the boys’ cases. Nineteen of 45 youth both had abuse identified in their files and their custody was disrupted. Seventeen girls and 8 boys were identified as sexual abuse victims” (Schulze & Bryan, 2017). The statistics provided show that adolescents who turned out to be delinquents experienced some form of abuse or had some type of family conflict and shows how their anger contributed to worsening their circumstance. This evidently, could mean that based on those experiences, these adolescents’ character are shaped in an emotional imbalanced, negative and painful way which lead them to a wrong path away from their educational goals.

For instance, a single parent can play a negative role in the lives of their children as well as their own in many ways. Their economic status or the absence of the other parent can affect their children psychologically and socially overall. There’s a lot of emphasis put on the fact that single parents under the age of 18 percentage has increased from about 7% in 1950 to about 30% in 2010. This helps explain and understand why most single parent families’ fall below the poverty line because it is more difficult to pursue a higher education to get a good job based on the lack of economic resources they do not have. The recent article mentioned also noted that, “Juveniles are not just rebelling against parental authority; they are reacting against external controls as well” (Schulze & Bryan, 2017). This justifies the behavior some adolescents normally have, but in a juvenile’s case, they tend to try to break away from rules that regulate them and believe they have “grown up”. When this occurs, they may stop cooperating with societal demands that allows them to progress and grow. In some cases because of their illegal actions, they are forced out of school or end up dropping out before completing high school. When a child does not have the environment, economical resources, and family make up, they are more vulnerable to grow up misguided and hit a point in their life where they defy any type of authority that tries to regulate or direct them.

Through governmental programs, family support, and wellness programs, people can ensure a higher graduation rate among these students. Also by becoming more involved in one’s community by trying to get the youth involved, people can effectively help students stay focused on their goals and aspirations. Bullying, an unhealthy environment, and a conflicted family are some of the factors that can affect a child has and adolescent is performance academically, and led them down to a negative path. Based on the information gathered, it is clear that children and adolescents are more vulnerable and can affect them in regards to just about anything. Overall, it is evident that there are many social issues, which can affect a child or adolescent’s education regarding with their stress. It is necessary for people in general to find a way about dealing with problems like race, wealth, relationships, religion, or culture and avoiding it to influence the youth in a negative manner. Psychology is after all the study of how people process things internally and externally and how they go about it. It is important for people to focus that concept on the youth in order to ensure a better future and promote the well-being of them.

Reference

Seawa Branscombe, N. and Baron, R. (2017). Social psychology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson Education. rd, B. L. (2015).

Seaward, B. (2012). Managing stress. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Rayan, A. H. R. (2017). Mindfulness, quality of life, and severity of depressive symptoms

among patients with schizophrenia and patients with major depressive disorder. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 55(5), 40-50. doi:https://dx.doi.org.rdas-proxy.mercy.edu:2048/10.3928/02793695-20170420-05

Cheng, Y. A. (2017). Longer Exposure to Obesity, Slimmer Chance of College? Body Weight

Trajectories, Non-Cognitive Skills, and College Completion. Youth & Society, 49(2), Retrieved April 18, 2017, from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0044118X14540183

Berger, E., Hasking, P., & Martin, G. (2017, February 02). Adolescents’ Perspectives of Youth

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Prevention. Retrieved April 20, 2017, from https://journals.sagepub.com.rdasproxy.mercy.edu:2048/doi/full/10.1177/0044118X13520561

Boylan, R. L., & Renzulli, L. (2017, February 02). Routes and Reasons Out, Paths Back: The

Influence of Push and Pull Reasons for Leaving School on Students’ School Reengagement. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from https://journals.sagepub.com.rdas-proxy.mercy.edu:2048/doi/full/10.1177/0044118X14522078

Schulze, C., & Bryan, V. (2017, February 02). The Gendered Monitoring of Juvenile

Delinquents: A Test of Power-Control Theory Using a Retrospective Cohort Study. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from https://journals.sagepub.com.rdas-proxy.mercy.edu:2048/doi/full/10.1177/0044118X14523478

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The Impact of Peer Pressure in Adolescents and How to Cope with It. (2019, May 29). Retrieved September 28, 2021 , from
https://studydriver.com/the-impact-of-peer-pressure-in-adolescents-and-how-to-cope-with-it/

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