- Resistance and conformity
- Book title
- Encyclopedia of Adolescence
- Pages (from-to)
- New York: Springer
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Resistance to peer influence, or the ability to resist making choices or adopting views under the implicit or explicit influence of your peers, is expected to undergo changes during adolescence. Two developmental trajectories have emerged from the field. On the one hand, adolescents show a temporary decrease in resistance to peer influence when it comes to antisocial situations, whereas on the other hand, adolescents seem to grow more resistant to neutral peer influence. Studies that have investigated age and gender differences in self-reported resistance to peer influence will be reviewed. In addition, relationships between resistance to peer influence and neuromaturational changes, both functional and structural, will be discussed. Finally, possibilities for future strands of research are suggested to further the field of resistance to peer influence.
The current essay will discuss a range of studies that investigated resistance to peer influence over the past decades. Special attention will be paid to effects of used setting in which peer influence is assessed on the conclusions that are drawn about the development of resistance to peer influence. The negative framework for studying resistance to peer influence will be contrasted with a neutral framework. The negative framework refers to the fact that many researchers have investigated resistance to peer influence in relation to antisocial activities (e.g., delinquency) and adolescent problem behavior (e.g., alcohol abuse and smoking). On the other hand, neutral resistance to peer influence has been the subject of more recent research studies. The term neutral resistance to peer influence is used here to indicate peer influence that does not occur in an antisocial setting but is assessed in relation to a neutral context. For instance, the value attached to being an individual rather than part of the crowd or the willingness to change your ideas to more closely reflect those of your peers. These are studies that have explicitly tried to minimize the negative connotations in their methodology. In addition to reviewing studies that have investigated age differences in self-reported resistance to peer influence, a new avenue of research will be discussed. These studies conducted by among others Paus and colleagues (e.g., Grosbras et al. 2007; Paus et al. 2008) have investigated the relationship between neuromaturational changes and the development of resistance to peer influence. Finally, future strands of research are suggested for the study of resistance to peer influence.
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