Satish Raju (name changed) who is now in the fourth year of his engineering in the ECE stream in a private college, joined engineering just because his friends had taken admission and had influenced him to take up engineering study, while his interest lay in the study of economics. Today, he is lagging behind with about 16 subjects carried forward over the last three years as backlog for the fourth year. He is unable to cope up with the pressure and is desperate to join some other course.

The same is the case with Srinivas, who wanted to join a NGO or try his hands in the Group I State services with the motive of serving in the rural areas, as he hailed from an agrarian family from a village in the West Godavari district.

But under the influence of his friends from the urban areas, he attempted a campus interview and was selected by a software multi-national company. After joining, he had to quit the firm under severe depression, as he could not withstand the hep culture and the late night party syndrome.

He was forced to sail with the late night party culture, as he was under the impression that he would be singled out.

As one grows up, he or she comes under many kinds of external pressure or influences.

Pressure from the parents to do something or for that matter from the teachers, but the most influencing of all is the pressure that comes from the peer groups.

The influence or pressure that generates from the peer group is termed as peer pressure.

Psychologists say that peer pressure is generally attributed to the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behaviour in order to conform to group norms.

Pro and Cons

Peer pressure can swing both the negative and the positive side. It has a deep impact on one's decision making ability, especially when it comes to choosing a course or a career path.

Director of Conduira P.V. Rama Sasank says that peer pressure impacts heavily on three fronts: Career choice, higher education and personal life. He points out, “The most crucial factor is when, somewhere down the line they realise that the decision was influenced and was wrong. But by that time in most of the cases it is too late.”

The Director of CTC Communications A.S. Prasad adds, the moment children get into the high school the sense of independence creeps into their minds, and friends begin to play the role of an extended family.

“The concept of social acceptance finds way into their minds and decisions tend to be governed by the environment and peer pressure,” he says.

“Peers tend to dominate your decision making ability. At times we lean towards the pressure without even understanding the situation and ground realities,” says Sasank.

Peer pressure can impact both the negative and the positive side of one's life. “Young minds on most occasions tend to get addicted to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol under peer pressure and at the same time many chart their growth and career plan under the influence of the toppers in the college,” says Sasank.

Herding concept

Peer pressure at times leads to the ‘herding concept', wherein one follows the group blindly, without having a clear understanding of the consequences and assessing his or her strengths and weaknesses.

“With the academic year almost coming to an end, young minds should weigh the options before taking the final stride,” says Mr. Prasad.

Sumit Bhattacharjee

in Visakhapatnam