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Peer Pressure and Substance Use in Emerging Adulthood: A Latent Profile Analysis

Studies have shown substance use may peak during emerging adulthood. Studies have also shown that peer pressure is a risk factor for substance use during adolescence. The current study builds on this research to look at various peer pressure domains and substance use among a group of young adults.

This study included 359 emerging adults. The average age of the participants was 25.5 and 34% were attending a school with end goals ranging from a 2-year degree to post-graduate degrees. Demographics were first assessed. Sensation seeking was measured by asking 8 questions such as “I prefer friends who are excitingly unpredictable.” Perceived peer pressure was measured by using the 38-item perceived peer pressure inventory (PPI). This asked participants degree and direction of pressure they felt from peers with items such as “get drunk.” Researchers also asked participants to indicate pressures to socialize. Finally, participants were asked abut lifetime alcohol use, marijuana use, other illegal drug use, and binge drinking in the past 30 days.

A three-class model was created with first being Positive Peer Pressure. It composed 16% of participants and was higher on peer pressure to not engage in substance use or to “party.” The second class was No Peer Pressure. It composed 70% of participants and included low rates of peer pressure to socialize or to use substance. The final class was Negative Peer Pressure. It composed 15% of participants and had high pressure to socialize, moderate pressure to be friends with “popular” kids, and high on peer pressure to participate in substance use. Days drinking at least one drink was lower for the Positive Peer Pressure group and higher for the Negative Peer Pressure group. The Negative Peer Pressure group reported more binge drinking marijuana use. These findings show peer pressure may impact young adult’s substance use in both positive and negative ways.

Take Away: The current study looks at various peer pressure domains and substance use among a group of young adults. This study included 359 emerging adults with an average age of 25.5. Measures included demographics, sensation seeking, perceived peer pressure, and substance use. A three-class model was created. The first was Positive Peer Pressure (16%). The second class was No Peer Pressure (70%). The final class was Negative Peer Pressure (15%). Days drinking at least one drink was lower for the Positive Peer Pressure group and much higher for the Negative Peer Pressure group. The Negative Peer Pressure group reported more binge drinking and more frequent marijuana use. These findings show peer pressure may have an impact on young adult’s substance use in both positive and negative ways.

Keyzers, A., Lee, S., & Dworkin, J. (2020). Peer Pressure and Substance Use in Emerging Adulthood: A Latent Profile Analysis. Substance Use & Misuse, 55(10), 1716-1723. doi:10.1080/10826084.2020.1759642

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