How Peer Influences Affect Adolescents, Youths, or Adults’ Behaviors

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Gardner and Steinberg (2005) conducted an experiment to find out if peer influences affect adolescents, youths, or adults’ behaviors. They pulled people from around the urban community and ended up with a sample of 306 participants consisting of adolescents of ages 13-16, youth of ages 18-22 and adults of ages 24 and older.

The youths since they were from college, they had the choice between research credit, or twenty dollars and others were given twenty dollars to participate. Everyone was asked to bring other participants except for the adolescents. Each participant was asked to answer questions about their risk decision, risk preference and risk taking by either taking it by themselves or in groups of three depending on their age and gender.

Gardner and Steinberg (2005) hypotheses that risk taking, decision and preference goes down if the participant is older and that it will increase if they are in groups because of peer pressure. They believe that those factors levels will be the highest in adolescent, youth then adult will be the lowest. When taking risks, they saw that the participants took more risks because of the benefits and did not really care about the cost of the behavior. Furthermore, they came to the conclusion that peer pressure was more present in adolescents and youth than adult.

Risk taking was assessed by a video game called “Chicken” which is a video about a car game. The participants were supposed to slow down when they see a yellow light and if they stopped too late, a brick would appear, and they would loose all the point if the car hit it. There was a group that was allowed to shout so that the person could decide either to listen or to not listen.

Risk preference was determined by a scale, Benthin Risk Perception Measure (BRPM) that determined the cost versus benefit. The participants were asked hypothetical questions such as sex without condom. Individuals answered alone while groups were able to discuss and come to a conclusion and then answered the questions. Risky decision was also hypothetical question assessed by Youth Decision-Making Questionnaire (YDMQ).

The problem was about whether or not a friend is allowed to bring drugs in their house. They were giving scenarios: no consequences, might have consequences, definitely consequences. Just like risk preference there were individuals who answered alone, and there were groups who were able to discuss and choose their own answer.

To conclude, each student was randomly assigned in groups or alone. The group assignment was made by participants of the same gender, age but not race. They were presented by surveys and simulations. At the end, the experiment proved that adolescents are more influences by their peers.


Overall this experiment was able to reach its hypothesis. The researchers wanted to know if peers influenced decision making, preference and risk taking, and they were able to conclude that it is true. This was a valid experiment because participants were randomly assigned to either complete their task alone or in group.

The independent variable was the social context such as alone or in group and the dependent variable was risk taking, risk preference and decision. Quite frankly they wouldn’t be able to do this experiment without the surveys because it had excessive variables with some unnecessary information. Even the article stated that all those excessive variables could influence the experiment. Thankfully at the end they were able to come to their hypotheses, so it wasn’t that much of a problem.

Another thing that was used wrong in this experiment is the different procedures that they used. For instance, youths and adults were asked to bring peers while the adolescents were not allowed to do so. The group procedure was the best part of the experiments. Participants could discuss hypothetical questions that were given to them then discuss it as a group, listen to each other’s opinions; at the end they had to come up with their own conclusion. This is a representation about the real world because if a group is going to do something, they usually discuss it and decide on whether they want to pursue their peers.

Additionally, they should have remained constant on the way they were planning on obtaining their data. Sadly, they decided to use different forms of studies such as a simulation test and two surveys. A good idea would have been to stay with the survey; since the questions were hypothetical, the participants had to imagine that they were in a certain situation rather being put in it like a simulation. Not to mention, there’s also the fact that adolescents does not have that much exposure to driving like the youths and adults.

Furthermore, the sample size was big. There were 306 participants who were compensated for their participation. There was a limit in the social background since they all came in the same place, an urban center. Another key point to remember is that the only groups that were truly motivated are the youths because of the option of either obtaining a research study credit or twenty dollars. Lastly, they were not compensated adequately which may motivate some more than the others.

Brief Summary

Gardner and Steinberg (2005) study is about 3 age groups: adolescents, youths and adults. The researchers, Steinberg and Gardner want to find out about these groups mindset therefore the groups were required to answered two questionnaires and a behavioral task measuring their risk preference, risk taking and risk decision.

They were assigned to either take this measurement alone or in group of 2 of same aged peer. They found that participants took more risks because of the benefits of it and did not care about what it will cost, they also found out that those risks factors decrease with age, and peers’ influences were more prevalent in youths and adolescents. The results show that adolescents are riskier than adults and that one of the things that plays a role in their risky decisions is peer influence.


Cite this paper

How Peer Influences Affect Adolescents, Youths, or Adults’ Behaviors. (2020, Sep 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-peer-influences-affect-adolescents-youths-or-adults-behaviors/

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