Peer Pressure

How Social Influnces Affect Peer Pressure

“Susceptible to Social Influence: Risky Driving in Response to Peer Pressure” was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in April of 2011. Its authors focus on the direct response of micro peer pressuring of a driver within an automobile, and the driver’s resulting behavior. The authors hypothesis that peer pressure encouraging riskier driving behavior would result in faster speeds and more accidents. It was suggested that social influence, whether normative or informational, can affect driving behavior, as well as risky decision making (Shepherd, 2011).

Two studies performed a driving simulation with college students who were encouraged to drive riskier, faster, or safer. Sometimes, they were informative encouragement. And in some cases they were not encouraged at all. The first study focused on inducing social influence while measuring risky driving behavior with the two measurement variables being max speed and number of collisions. The driving simulation used was “Enthusia Professional Racing for Sony PlayStation”, a video game which participants possessed varying levels of experience.

Risky Driving

Study 1 proved that social influence (and peer pressure) can directly manipulate driving behavior (Shepherd, 2011). Although, the study only included male participants, questioning the overall generalization of the results.  Study 2 included female participants as well and was produced in an attempt to replicate the findings of the original study. Women drivers experienced even higher collision rates than male participants in either study when encouraged to drive riskier, although they also achieved safer driving scores when encouraged to drive safely (Shepherd, 2011). Both studies concluded that peer pressuring drivers can lead to an increase in riskier behavior, speed, and collisions.            

The ultimate value of the studies extends beyond the effects of peer pressure on risky driving behavior. The authors have essentially found a micro-specific way to prove that peer pressure holds the potential to manipulate risky decision making. While the samples possessed flaws, with one sample only including males and both samples focusing on a video game, it is a simple reminder that social influences an modify behavior in a variety of settings. The article provided a simple way to measure social influence which can be replicated across other aspects of interaction within a social group.

References

Ames, D., & Mason, M. (2012). Mind perception. In S. T. Fiske, & C. N. Macrae The SAGE handbook of social cognition, SAGE Publications Ltd, 115-137. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781446247631.n7

Fiske, S., & Taylor, S. E. (2021). Social cognition: From brains to culture (4th.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. ISBN: 9781529702088.

Heatherton, T., Macrae, C., & Kelley, W., (2004). What the Social Brain Sciences Can Tell Us about the Self, Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(5), 190–193. DOI: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20182950

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