Dubai: While many of us experience peer pressure on a daily basis, why is it that we succumb to it? According to Dr Ottilia Brown, a clinical psychologist based in Dubai, people who succumb may do so because of a need to fit in.
She said: “Peer pressure is a mechanism of social conformity that places pressure on people to think or behave in certain ways, which are determined by the peer group. It can result in unhealthy behaviours, like drug and alcohol use or similar risky behaviour, or can be more extreme as in the case of committing crimes or hurting others. In a less extreme scenario, peer pressure may also result in people suppressing their own ideas, style and opinions to remain in the group.”
She goes on to state that peer pressure could result in psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders or even body image issues.
But, it’s not all bad.
Dr Brown said: “Peer pressure can also result in positive outcomes. Peer pressure can encourage healthy behaviours, like exercise and kindness to others.”
So, are we all equally susceptible to it? According to Dr Christina Burmeister, a Dubai-based clinical psychologist, we are not.
People of different age groups respond to such situations differently, with teens being the most vulnerable.
She said: “Everyone is affected, but teens focus more on their peers, while children are more focused on their parents. For a teenager, the peers become more important. The older we get, the more self-confidence we have, and so we try to be more individualistic. So it has to do with maturity and doing what is right for you and for the group.”
But, when you have done something that is out of character, in order to justify it, Dr Burmeister explains that people could change their personalities to incorporate what they did to avoid “appearing as a fraud”.