The Correlation Between Peer Group Pressure And A Student's Academic Performance

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Adolescence is a transitional period, where an individual transition from a child to an adult. During this period, adolescent teenagers are highly prone to experience peer pressure in them schools. The types of peer pressure individuals face in society today are vastly different when compared to records a few years ago. Peer pressure is a powerful social construct as it has the ability to influence an individual from what to wear, say, do or wheatear or not to engage in deviant behavior. Peer pressure is an important aspect of society and if academic professionals understand the trends of negative peer pressure, they can prevent an individual from falling into deviant behavior.

This research aims to find the correlation between peer pressure and the effects it has on a student's academic performance. Qualitative as well as quantitative methods were used to carry out this research. Questionnaire surveys were passed on a target population of 50 students out of which 39 took the survey. Alongside personal interviews were also conducted. This research is also a review of existing literature on positive and negative peer pressure.


Peer pressure can be defined as the influence an acquaintance or a group of associates has on an individual. This may result in the individual incorporating the ideology of their associates, which may lead to them changing their behavior, way of life and daily practices to the ability to “fit in. Every individual that transitions into an adult is looked at with the obstruction of “fitting in” in society, especially the youth which is attending schools and universities. This illustration plays a monumental part on the emotional and easily influenced developmental regions of an individuals and definitely influences their academic way of life.

According to Castrogiovanni (2002), a peer group is defined as a group of similarly aged, fairly close friends, indulging in the same kind of activities. Nowadays making new friends and having a particular social gathering is considered to be a flat out need for some students and sometimes it can genuinely useful for them. Whilst on the positive side, peer pressure may motivate students to try to do the absolute best in everything they do, peer pressure also negatively affects teenagers to cultivate deviant habits from their surroundings which may lead to loss of individuality and integrity, especially in their academic performance.

Modeling refers to when an individual change their perception, behavior, or effects that result from the observation of others (Ryan, 2000). However, when an individual's peers influence then to accomplish something, they would typically feel uncertain and remorseful about doing it, that is where the problem lies. At this point it is when wanting to fit in can turn its table against them. The influenced individual then may start to change their way of life, thinking and in some cases even abandon their morals and values. At some point this individual may even disregard their own parents and other authority figures as ideals and they might follow the examples of their social peer group.

The choices that students make regarding their motivation, engagement, and achievement in school or universities and the satisfaction they obtain from their choices depend on the context in which they make such decisions (Ryan, 2000). Numerous parts of a student's life can be influenced by peer pressure, but peer pressure is most likely to influence his/hers academic performance. The impact of a student's peers / social group has a concrete effect on the students when compared to their parents, authority figures or relatives. Students belonging to a social gathering have the tendency to please their social peers, they are willing to do everything in their power to follow their peer group’s instructions, standards and social norms.

Usually these are the students who are the newcomers in the school or university, or have been chosen to be a part of a social gathering. In addition, the students who are effortlessly influenced and are easy targets for peer pressure tend to have a sense of insecurity about them. Therefore, the impact and consequences of peer pressure can be seen to have a more negative effect rather than positive as it prevents students from achieving their academic goals.

The questions that will be explored and answered through this research paper are:

  1. How academic performance is affected by peer pressure that a student tends to conform to?
  2. What types of peer pressure work best on students, so much that it affects a student's academic performance in a negative manner?
  3. How does peer pressure develop? Does a sense of insecurity from the targeted student lead to further growth and manifestation?

Literature Review

Pre-pubescent teens find it very vital to be a part of any social group, especially students. For the students the social group is a place where they find it safe to share their thoughts and emotions. The member of the social group, to a certain extent, get feedback from each other. The members of the social group are not the students' parents, siblings or relatives. For them, it is that they are recognized by their own personal morals and beliefs, rather than those of their family members. Nevertheless, just like everything else in life, being a part of any social group has its price to pay. Social groups come with the price tag of accepting their norms and regulations, whilst also changing oneself to become more like the group itself, whether or not the person is comfortable with those norms/ social behavior.

A study ( Ryan, 2000) concluded that socializing with peers who have remarkably good grades elevates one’s own gratification towards school, whilst having peers who have a negative relationship with school and academics, decreases one’s gratification. Negative peer groups inflict a negative form of peer pressure, which therefore leads to remarkably low grades and deviant behavior. The societal institution known as peer pressure has been vastly studied and this literature review presents the purpose of the background of it. The decline in academics of students maybe because they are experiencing peer pressure.Scholarly research has been done on peer groups and peer pressure since the 1960s.

Additionally, it has been set down in black and white that social peer groups can provide positive as well as negative support to students. Peer groups can inflict a good relationship with academics as well as a negative one (Berndt & Keefe, 1995; Cairns, Neckerman, & Cairns, 1989, Helsen, Vollebergh, & Meeus, 1997). With reference to the research done on peer pressure, it can be said that there are five ways or forms of peer pressure that have an impression on people. A few examples are, criticism, teasing, humiliating etc (McLeod, 2016). The most ideal way a student can be influenced, is by the belief and perceptive of how their social group would possibly react if they behaved in a different manner (Burns and Darling, 2002). When these students behave in an unassociated manner when compared to the members of his/her peer group, or not up to the social standards; it is possible to say that may become victims of peer pressure or any kind of form of peer pressure. Therefore, alternatively the student conforms to the rules and values of their group, rather than behaving in a way of their own choice (Black,2000).

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According to Crutchfeild (1995), conformity simple means to “yield to group pressure”. Conformity means to change one's behavior or beliefs due to social impact in order to fit in a certain group of people. Kelmen (1958) states that there are three types of conformity, compliance, internalization and identification. Compliance is a short-term change in behavior. It occurs when an individual adapts to the ideals and norms of the majority but does not agree with them personally. Internalization happens when an individual adapts to ideas and norms of the majority publicly and privately. Interlunation occurs “when an individual accepts influence because he wants to establish or maintain a satisfying self-defining relationship to another person” (Kelmen,1958,p.53). Mann (1969) made a fourth addition to these types of conformity, integration. This is when an individual conforms to norms in order to gain acceptance from a social group.

According to research there are two reasons why people conform: Normative conformity and Informational conformity. Normative conformity is when an individual's adapts to norms in order to refrain or avoid rejection. Informational conformity is when an individual turn to other people for advise in ambiguous situations because he lacks in knowledge. Peer pressure and peer relationships have mainly been experienced in schools and universities. For example, many studied have concluded that the impact of peer groups on teenage experiences are within traditional middle, junior and high school environments. There are alternative schools who do not conform to the traditional school of thought and the students attending those schools differ in mental structure and philosophy (Guerin & Denti, 1999; Wiest et al., 2001). Therefore, it can be said that peer group and peer-peer relationships vary from institution to institution. The results of a study conducted by Taylor and Wong (1996), a strong correlation was seen between a low GPA and negative peer pressure.

Another study also concluded a relationship between the decline in a student's GPA and negative peer pressure. Students who were adapting to the norms and wishes of their peers had a considerably low GPA when compared to students who had a comparatively low level of conformity (Taylor and Wong, 1996). In addition to that, this study also showed a relative amount of difference when it came to conformity and its directly proportional relation with gender. Male students are more likely to become victims of negative peer pressure as compared to female students (Zarina and Shamsa, 2011; Brown, 1982). Moreover, the study also implies that there was a noteworthy gender difference when it came to conformity with their peers. Boys were more likely to fall for negative pressure as compared to girls (Taylor and Wong,1996). Peer pressure effects many aspects of a young adult's life but it extends to their academic performance and achievements as well. Many aspects of a young student's life are influenced and effected by peer pressure, but most importantly their academic lifestyle. The impact that peer pressure can have on an individual can be both positive and negative, this also goes for their academic performance (Tope,2011).

A majority of these students belong to universities, where they spend most of their time bonding with their peer group, and the more time they spend together the more they start to trust each other and form an unbreakable bond with one another. As a result of all of this it is highly more likely for them to adapt their social groups behavior. Most of the students who indulge in conformity have a sense of insecurity about themselves and therefore turn to their peers and try to mimic their behavior.


This research was conducted using quantitative research techniques and using existing data from different researchers. A questionnaire survey which consisted of fifteen questions. The target population was made up of students who are currently enrolled in Forman Christian College. A total of 72 students took the survey, which was made on google forms. The survey was passed onto students using groups made on WhatsApp and other social media applications. The survey consisted close ended questions which has three possible answers, “yes', 'no” and “maybe”. The questions were based on the student's GPA and their peer groups. The questions were more focused around the individuals peer group and how their peer group influences the individuals behavior and what kind of effect their social group has on their academics. Is it negative or Positive?


The examination above shows that 45% of students agree that their peers perform exceptionally well in their academics, whilst 20% and 35% of the students who took the survey strongly disagree and are not sure that their fellow peers perform well in their academic examination. 66.7% of the respondents answered ‘yes’ when asked if their peer group effect their academics positively while, 6.9% answered no and 26.4% answered maybe. When asked if their peer groups encourage them to do well in their academics, 66 % answered yes while 26% answered no, which can be seen as a negative influence on an individual's academic lifestyle. 27.8% of the students said ‘yes’ when asked if their peer group looks down or bullies' students with higher grade point average, while 46% said no. 26.4% and 28.6% of the students answered yes and maybe, respectively, when asked if the members of the peer group are involved in any kind of drug activity and if it has had an influence on them. 33.3% and 17.3% of the students answered yes and maybe when they were asked if they had to alter their behavior in order to fit in their desired peer group. When asked if they are easily influenced by their peers a shocking rate of 44.4% and 16.7% said yes and maybe. 38.7% and 17.8% of the students answered yes and maybe when asked if their peers make fun of them when they refuse to indulge in activities which they are not comfortable doing.

In Maslow (1954) theory of a hierarchy of needs he showed the need for belongingness and love as a step towards attainment in his hierarchy of motivation model. From his point of view deprivation of any basic human needs can hinder the progress towards achievement. According to Maslow’s model, an individual should first have his issues of love and belongingness settled before addressing his needs of achievement. For example, an adolescent teen who has deprived relationship concerns from his family will not participate in the classroom when compared to a student who has the need for love and belongingness fulfilled.

The foundation of the ability to learn is based on comfortable relationships with other, including peers and family members, and classroom learning is based around the idea of learning with and in the presence of others. When looking at the empirical evidence that has been put forward, a relationship between peer relationship and their influence on academics can be seen (Ladd, 1990; Ladd, Kochenderfer, & Coleman 1996). NAEP (1998) conducted the research in which they asked the most intriguing question to see the effects of peers on academic achievement. The survey asked a young adult to strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: 'My friends make fun of people who try to do well in school.' This question is important when measuring the impact of peer pressure on academic achievement.


The aim of this study was to find out if there is any form of correlation between peer group influence or pressure and a student's academic performance. The research hypothesis was tested and literature was reviewed which was related to the topic of investigation. Questionnaires and usage of existing data were the instruments that were used to test the hypothesis, which have been analyzed above.

The results of this research lead to show that peer pressure forms the main foundation of adolescent kids to learn empirical knowledge about their physical and social environment as well as accretion of skills and the attitude needed for the achievement for a better future. Peer group influence also has a significant relationship with an individual's academic performance. If an individual's peers are into negative activities such has drug abuse, skipping out on classes and being chronically absent from school just to engage in time wasteful activities, these attributes of an individual's peer group is likely to effect his/her academic performance.


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