According to researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill peer behavior is overestimated regarding substance abuse, and underestimated in areas like studying and exercising. Teens are highly influenced by their peers, and common misconceptions about the behaviors that their peers engage in can lead to a higher rate of teen substance abuse. Peer pressure plays a vital role in teen thoughts and behaviors, and teenagers are extremely vulnerable to this type of pressure. According to Stanford Graduate School of Education professor and co-author of the recent study Geoffery Cohen “This quest for identity can sometimes lead adolescents in the wrong direction.” The study involved 235 participants who were all in the 10th grade at a high school and who came from middle income families.
The research study on peer behavior and teen substance abuse divided the participants into 5 groups based on reputation. These groups were the populars who were socially oriented, the jocks who were athletically oriented, the burnouts considered to be deviant oriented, the brains who were academically oriented, and the group that was not affiliated with the other four status categories. According to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill senior investigator Mitch Prinstein “Adolescents tend to conform to stereotypes that we have seen in the Breakfast Club, but those stereotypes do not exist as dramatically as we once thought. The behavior of all types of kids are grossly misunderstood or misperceived by adolescents, not just the jocks and the populars but also the brains and the burnouts.”