Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 163-182

First online:

Measuring Peer Pressure, Popularity, and Conformity in Adolescent Boys and Girls: Predicting School Performance, Sexual Attitudes, and Substance Abuse

  • Darcy A. SantorAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Dalhousie UniversityDepartment of Psychology, Dalhousie University
  • , Deanna MesserveyAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Dalhousie University
  • , Vivek KusumakarAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Existing measures of peer pressure and conformity may not be suitable for screening large numbers of adolescents efficiently, and few studies have differentiated peer pressure from theoretically related constructs, such as conformity or wanting to be popular. We developed and validated short measures of peer pressure, peer conformity, and popularity in a sample (n = 148) of adolescent boys and girls in grades 11 to 13. Results showed that all measures constructed for the study were internally consistent. Although all measures of peer pressure, conformity, and popularity were intercorrelated, peer pressure and peer conformity were stronger predictors of risk behaviors than measures assessing popularity, general conformity, or dysphoria. Despite a simplified scoring format, peer conformity vignettes were equal to if not better than the peer pressure measures in predicting risk behavior. Findings suggest that peer pressure and peer conformity are potentially greater risk factors than a need to be popular, and that both peer pressure and peer conformity can be measured with short scales suitable for large-scale testing.