Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 121–133 | Cite as

The extent and effects of peer pressure among high school students: A retrospective analysis

  • B. Bradford Brown


Although people assume that peer pressure is an influential component of adolescent development, few empirical studies have investigated the nature and extent of its influence. Using retrospective accounts from 297 college undergraduates, the present study assessed how much pressure peers exerted in numerous areas of high school life and how this pressure influenced teenagers' attitudes and behaviors. One-third of both genders identified peer pressure as one of the hardest things they had to face as a teenager. Generally, however, peer pressure appeared stronger for females than males, and the genders disagreed about the areas in which pressure was strongest. Perceptions of peer pressure were significantly associated with dating attitudes, sexual activity, and use of drugs and alcohol, but not with relationships with parents. The findings suggested that adolescents may be their own worst enemy in any attempt to break away from gender-stereotypic attitudes and behavior.


Alcohol High School Empirical Study Retrospective Analysis Health Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Bradford Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of WisconsinMadison

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