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Adolescence. 2000 Spring;35(137):167-80.

The myth of peer pressure.

Author information

1
School of Social Work, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Canada.

Abstract

The construct of peer pressure was examined as part of a qualitative study of the determinants of mental health for 41 high-risk adolescents. While the concept of peer pressure enables adults to explain youths' troubling behaviors, content analysis of the participants' accounts of their lives revealed peer pressure to be a myth. The youths indicated that adoption of the behavior and appearance of peers was a consciously employed strategy to enhance personal and social power. Association with peers was used to construct and maintain health-promoting identities that challenged the stigmatizing labels given to them by others. Three developmental stages to this process of identity construction were identified. During stage one, vulnerable youths learn to maintain a singular self-definition through interaction with peers. In stage two, youths purposefully use their peer relations to experiment with multiple identities. During stage three, youths collaborate with peers as equal partners in the construction of one or more identities for which they find acceptance.

PMID:
10841304
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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