Humans are very social animals and individuals greatly influence each other. Peer pressure can make individuals change their attitudes or behavior to conform to the group. This means that people became less of an individual and more anonymous.
I am pretty sure that almost everyone has been in a situation where they have acted in a manner that was completely out of their character. That occurs often because an individual doesn´t want to oppose othe group members. This is often considered negative, but peer pressure can also have positive effects, for example giving money to charity. If almost the whole group shares the same opinion, an individual prefers to conform to the group than express disagreement. Sometimes this may lead to a situation in which the strongest and the most convincing individual in the group makes the biggest decisions.
Peer pressure is particularly strong in adolescence. The young are often more influenced by other people than adults. Especially in case of very young children competitive feelings toward other children are often strong, but also young people compare themselves to others in the same age. Among adolescents peer pressure affects pretty much for example on clothing and behavior. Of course it occurs also in older ages, but for adults the personal values are often more important.
Peer pressure is quite a common effect, but it doesn´t always occur. People are not always affected by peer pressure. Facebook is a good example. Today almost everyone in my age is on Facebook so the pressure to be on Facebook is quite big. Still I am not on Facebook.
The most important reason is that I can get along without it, but I also want in a manner to do something differently than the others. Of course I would have joined on Facebook if I really needed it, but so far this has been an easy decision. Why should I do something I don´t feel right just because of peer pressure?
Like my example shows up peer pressure can also be reverse. This means that people go against the majority, because they don`t want to associate with certain groups. For example I don’t go to a football match wearing a scarf in colors of home team, if I don’t want to associate with home team fans. Also consumers sometimes avoid brands they believe would put them into a group they don´t want to belong to.
People are usually influenced by groups they may want to belong to. These can be groups people believe they are part of or aspire to be. Almost everyone is also influenced by opinion leaders. Opinion leader can be almost anyone who gets asked for advice a lot. Normally an opinion leader is someone you know, trust or admire.
To find your own opinion leaders you should ask yourself a single question: “if you needed to know what has happened, or wanted advice, who would you call?” The same names start to show up. They are your opinion leaders. In everyday life opinion leaders can be for example parents, friends, teachers or coaches.
Opinion leaders are also useful in marketing because they can help persuade people to act or in this case buy. They are often experts in a certain area or celebrities that everyone knows. If some professionals really seem to be knowledgeable about a product, they might also have the power to influence others.
Next time you are making a buying decision stop yourself thinking. Is your decision influenced by someone? Are you buying a product because you need it or because everyone else already has it or someone you admire is also using the same product? Many of our decisions are influenced by others even though we are seldom aware of it. No one is safe from group influence.