Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Psychology

The Effect of Peer Group Influence and the Role of Parents on Adolescent Behaviors

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Psychology

The Effect of Peer Group Influence and the Role of Parents on Adolescent Behaviors

Article excerpt

Byline: Gina Tome, Margarida Gaspar de Matos, Ines Camacho, Celeste Simoes, and Jose Alves Diniz

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to analyze the influence of peer groups on adolescent risk and health behaviors. The study will examine whether adolescents who have more friends engaging in risk behaviors adopt more risk behaviors and if those whose friends engage in protective behaviors, have higher welfare. If this trend is found, we will try to understand whether parental monitoring will somewhat moderate this influence. The sample was composed by individuals that participated in the study in continental Portugal, integrating the European study HBSC - Health Behaviour in School-aged Children. The study included a total of 4877 students from the 6th, 8th and 10th grades from Portuguese public schools, with an average age of 14 years. The results revealed the influence of peer group can be negative when they have more risk behaviors and positive when they have more protective behaviours.

Parental monitoring is important for risk behaviors and welfare and influences happiness and life satisfaction of adolescents, but does not moderate the influence of peers.

Keywords: peer group influences, parental monitoring, risk behaviour, well-being

INTRODUCTION

Social influence has a major impact throughout life, namely for adolescents and for their involvement in certain risk or health behaviors.

There are two main sources of this influence - friends and parents (Gibbon, Pomery, and Gerrard, 2008). Peer influences can often be negative and the effects of peer pressure can range from disturbing to dangerous, peer influence processes also have a far more positive side that is often overlooked. Even though peers can strongly influence adolescents, these influences need not always be negative. Quite the contrary, being influenced to behave in a way that one`s peers find most acceptable and attractive is actually very close to being precisely the definition of what it means to be a well-socialized individual. In adulthood, being influenced by one`s peers is virtually isomorphic with the concept of socialization. This evidence does not lead to the conclusion that the existence of strong peer influences is a fundamental problem in adolescence.

The results found by Jaccard, Blanton, and Dodge (2005) show a positive influence of peer groups. The authors analyzed the effect of best friends in alcohol and sexual behaviors in a sample of about 1700 pairs of friends, aged 13-17 years, and found that the influence of close friends and a peer group is sometimes overstated. Through the variables it was determined that the best friend's influence on alcohol consumption was mostly obsolete.

There are several ways in which this influence can act, depending on age, ethnicity and other variables (Padilla-Walker and Bean, 2009). In general, adolescents to be influenced need some affinity with the peer group, hence the importance of knowing the reference group that may have greater influence on personal behavior (Lapinski and Rimal, 2005). Peers can strongly influence dressing preferences, way of speaking, choices of media (movies, music, television, Web) illicit substance use, sexual behavior, being violent and the degree of acceptance of violence, adoption of crime and anti-social behavior and many other areas (Padilla-Walker and Bean, 2009; Reitz, Dekovic, Meijer and Engels, 2006).

One of the main questions about the process of peer influence is if the adoption of the friends' behaviors is a process of influence or a process of peers' choice. In other words, do friends influence adolescents to adopt certain behaviors and do adolescents seek friends with similar behaviors? Sieving, Perry and Williams (2000) observed that consumption of alcohol among adolescents occurred primarily by the process of influence and not choice. The same trend was verified for the consumption of illicit substances. …

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