23 Insightful Peer Pressure Statistics

According to Merriam-Webster, peer pressure is defined as “a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one’s age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them.” In most cases, it’s connected to kids and teens. However, peer pressure can occur at any age, including among young adults and older persons.

By looking at a wide range of peer pressure statistics, it’s easier to get a full scope of what it can involve. With that in mind, here are 23 intriguing peer pressure statistics that are worth exploring.

1. 85% of High School Students Have Felt Peer Pressure

Among high school students, peer pressure is incredibly common. Overall, 85% say that they have felt it in some form or fashion.

[Source: Choosing Therapy]

2. 28% of Kids Say That Giving in to Peer Pressure Helps Move Up the Social Ladder

Social standing is often a concern for kids of various ages. Overall, 28% of children say that giving in to peer pressure makes a difference, ultimately by helping them advance socially.

[Source: Parent Further]

3. Only 10% of Kids Say That Peer Pressure Has Never Influenced Them

When it comes to how widespread the impact of peer pressure can be, understanding how many kids aren’t affected by it can shine a light on the issue. Overall, a mere 10% of kids say that peer pressure hasn’t influenced their behavior at any time.

[Source: Parent Further]

4. 70% of Teen Smokers Started Smoking Due to Peer Pressure

When it comes to smoking among teens, peer pressure is a major influencer. Seventy percent of teenage smokers say that it directly contributed to their decision to start.

[Source: Choosing Therapy]

5. Resistance to Peer Pressure Rises Between 14 and 18 – But Flatlines from 18 to 30

Most people know from personal experience that their ability to resist peer pressure increased during their teenage years. However, once a person hits 18 years of age, it appears that additional growth in this area is near-non-existent.

Instead, between 18 and 30, a person’s ability to resist peer pressure seemingly stagnates. As a result, their risk of giving in remains constant throughout young adulthood.

[Source: Journal of Developmental Psychology]

6. 20% of 56+-Year-Olds Feel Peer Pressure to Drink More Alcohol

While it’s easy to assume that alcohol-related peer pressure is mainly an issue among teens or college-age adults, that isn’t the case. Overall, one in five adults over the age of 55 say that they have felt pressure to consume more alcohol than they would generally choose to drink.

[Source: Daily Mail]

7. One-Third of Teen Boys Feel Pressured to Engage in Sexual Activity

Among teen boys age 15 to 17, pressure to have sex is common. Thirty-three percent say that they’ve felt this kind of pressure personally, usually from their male friends.

[Source: Psychology Today]

8. Around One in Four Teen Girls Feel Pressured to Have Sex

While teen girls feel less coerced by their peers to have sex, it is still an issue. Overall, 23% say that they’ve felt peer pressure to engage in sexual activity.

[Source: Psychology Today]

9. One in Five Teens Has Sex Before Age 15

When it comes to teenage sex, 20% of teens engage in the activity before their 15th birthday.

[Source: Psychology Today]

10. 40% of Teens Feel Pressured to Only Post Content That Makes Them Look Good

Social media can be problematic, putting teens under various kinds of pressure. Overall, 40% of teens feel pressure to only post content that can make them look good to others on the platform. Additionally, 39% feel pressure to focus on content that’s considered popular, leading to more likes and comments.

[Source: Statista]

11. Teen Drivers’ Risk of Death Rises by 44% When Another Teen Is in the Vehicle

Engaging in risky behavior can be a sign of peer pressure in action. Among teen drivers, their risk of death per mile skyrockets by 44% when there is another teenager in the vehicle. That could indicate that they are making riskier decisions based on the presence of a peer in the car.

[Source: Psychological Science]

12. Teen Drivers Are 2.5x More Likely to Take a Risk Behind the Wheel When There Is One Teen Passenger

Teen drivers don’t necessarily take many risks when they are driving on their own, often coming in with numbers similar to adults. However, if just one teenage passenger is present, their odds of taking a risk went up dramatically. With one teen passenger, a teen driver is 2.5 times more likely to engage in potentially dangerous behavior.

[Source: Scholastic]

13. Teen Drivers Are 3x More Likely to Take Risks While Driving When There Are 2+ Teen Passengers

While just one teen passenger in a vehicle increases a teen driver’s odds of taking a risk, when two or more teenage passengers are involved, the odds go up higher. With 2+ teen passengers, a teenage driver is 3 times more likely to engage in risky behavior than if they are driving alone.

[Source: Scholastic]

14. By Age 15, One in Three Teens Have Had One or More Alcoholic Drinks

Underage drinking is a serious concern for many. While many adults take steps to reduce a teen’s access to alcohol, many do still find a way to try it. Overall, by the age of 15, around 33% of teens have had at least one alcoholic drink.

[Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism]

15. By Age 18, Three in Five Teens Have Had One or More Drinks

By the age of 18, the number of teens that have had at least one alcoholic drink is almost double of the number who’ve had one at age 15. In total, about 60% of teens have had one or more alcoholic beverages by the time they reach the age of legal adulthood.

[Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism]

16. People Between the Ages of 12 and 20 Represent 11% of All Alcohol Consumption in the U.S.

While many people understand that underage drinking is common, many would underestimate exactly how much alcohol is consumed by someone under the age of 21. Overall, people between the ages of 12 and 20 drink around 11% of all alcohol that’s consumed in the U.S.

[Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism]

17. In the Last Month, More Than 1 Million 12 to 17-Year-Olds Have Participated in Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a highly risky behavior for anyone, though it’s particularly concerning among kids and teens. During the last month, approximately 1.19 million 12 to 17-year-olds have participated in the behavior.

[Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics]

18. More Than 12% of Teens Have Abused an Illicit Substance Within the Past Year

During the past year, approximately 12% of teens have abused an illicit substance. Some believe that number could be lower than the reality of the situation.

[Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics]

19. In Five Years, Drug Use Among 8th Grade Students Rose by 61%

Between 2016 and 2020, drug use among 8th-grade students – usually teens between the ages of 13 and 14 – increased by a startling 61%.

[Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics]

20. 62% of Teenagers Abuse Alcohol by the Time They Reach the 12th Grade

Some drinking among teens isn’t necessarily a surprise. However, by the time they reach their senior year in high school, 62% of teens have abused alcohol.

[Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics]

21. Half of Teenagers Have Misused a Drug One or More Times

Overall, 50% of teens have misused a drug at least one time. That can include taking a non-prescribed medication, taking prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs at doses beyond what’s prescribed, and similar activities.

[Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics]

22. 86% of Teens Know At Least One Student Who Drinks, Smokes, or Uses Drugs at School

While substance use among teens is often concerning in its own right, use during school hours may be particularly unnerving. Eighty-six percent of teens know at least one student who drinks, smokes, or uses drugs while at school.

[Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics]

23. Over 40% of College Students Have Used Illicit Drugs

Illicit drug use among college students is relatively high. Overall, 43% of college students have engaged in the behavior.

[Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics]

Bottom Line

Overall, peer pressure has a significant impact on people of all ages, potentially leading to risky behaviors. However, by learning from the statistics above, people can become more aware of possible issues and challenges facing people. In turn, that may help others make wiser decisions, ensuring that peer pressure doesn’t lead them to do something they wouldn’t do otherwise.

About the Author

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Catherine Reed

Catherine Reed is a writer and researcher with experience writing about a wide variety of topics including personal finance, technology, and staffing.