The Right Kind of Peer Pressure for Girls

Kara Powell | May 25, 2010

My husband is brilliant. And he reads a lot. He recently sent me this Slate article on peer pressure—the right kind of peer pressure.

Here’s the part most interesting to me as a mom and a leader: “Two recent studies suggest that Pipher’s basic observation about girls’ vulnerability to peer pressure remains true, but they emphasize that peer pressure can sometimes be a good thing. The studies examined the academic achievement of high school students and found that being surrounded by underachieving classmates has a negative effect on girls and boysboth genders feel pressure to conform to the lower standards of their peers. But the studies also show that girls are more sensitive than boys to the presence of high-achieving peers. Surround a girl with diligent classmates, and her performance will improve.”

In some ways, this is one of those times when research confirms what we might have intuitively guessed—that kids are influenced by their peers. But what’s interesting is that girls might be more influenced by peers than boys. Plus it’s motivating for parents and leaders to think about their kids’ friends and to pray and try to surround your kid with as many positive friends as possible.

Anyone have any guesses as to why girls might be more influenced by peers than boys?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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