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Conformity in Action: Why Our Friends Want Us to Drink?

Joseph Sparks

18th January 2017

Anyone attempting Dry January who goes out with friends who are drinking knows just how difficult it is to say ‘no’.

Not only do your friends encourage you to drink, they are often unhappy when you refuse alcohol. Interestingly, research on the negative reactions to non-drinking has been recorded in countries all over the world, including the USA, New Zealand, Japan, Africa and Finland.

The research reveals that young adults who are socially anxious and therefore concerned with what other people think are more prone to drinking when confronted by drinking friends. Furthermore, the research suggests that peer influence can be both direct and indirect. Direct influences include encouragement from friends to drink, or even someone buying you one after you’ve said ‘no’, whereas indirect influences can include vicarious reinforcement, from seeing your friends have a good time as a result of alcohol consumption.

Fortunately, psychology can also offer some tips to avoid the peer pressure, which include creating a cover story: ‘As much as I’d love to, I’m driving’, or ‘Sorry, but I’m on antibiotics, at the moment’.

AQA Specification Link: This interesting, real-world example of conformity, would create a useful application STEM for Social Psychology, in particular, explanations for conformity, or resisting social influence.

To read the other top tips, you can view the full article here.

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Joseph Sparks

Joseph is a Subject Advisor for Psychology at tutor2u. He is an experienced Psychology & Music Teacher, Writer, Examiner and Presenter. He is currently completing a Professional Doctorate in Education and is passionate about the impact of technology on teaching and learning.

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