The Influence of Peers

Discussion 1: The Influence of Peers

“If Johnny jumps off a cliff are you going to jump, too”? This is a cliché used often by parents wanting to convince their children that doing what “everyone else does” is not always a good idea.

For example, binge drinking is an increasing problem on college campuses, often with dire consequences (e.g., alcohol poisoning, unprotected sex, expulsion from school). Given the consequences, one wonders what compels college students to engage in such risky behavior. We know that fitting in—being accepted by others—is a primary motive for doing what others do. In this case, conforming to one’s referent group’s norms (i.e., getting drunk is cool) gains one’s acceptance to that group (Talbott, Wilkinson, Moore, & Usdan, 2014; Wardell & Read, 2013). Refusal to comply means rejection by the group.

Binge drinking, clearly, is not in the best interest of individual college students, unless you consider the importance of belonging to and acceptance by the group.

For this Discussion, you explore persuasion strategies with respect to the effects of peer influence on behavior.

References:
Talbott, L. L., Wilkinson, L. L., Moore, C. G., & Usdan, S. L. (2014). The role of injunctive norms and alcohol use during the first-semester of college. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 58(1), 60–81.
Wardell, J. D., & Read, J. P. (2013). Alcohol expectancies, perceived norms, and drinking behavior among college students: Examining the reciprocal determinism hypothesis. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27(1),
191–196.

To Prepare

  • Review the Learning Resources for this week and examine how social psychology theory and research explain the effects of peer influence on behavior.
  • Consider persuasion strategies that a social psychologist might use to convince someone to defy peer pressure.

By Day 3

Post an explanation for how you might persuade someone to “do what is in her or his best interest” when it means defying group demands. Use social psychology theory and research to support your persuasion strategy.

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