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Know! The Effect of Peer Presence

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Article provided by Prevention Action Alliance We all know the heavy influence peer pressure can have on a tween/teen, especially when it comes to risk-taking behaviors like drinking, smoking and using other drugs. But are you aware of the impact the mere presence of peers can have on an adolescent’s decision-making, without any coercing or encouragement at all? Psychologists from Temple University were curious to know why it is that otherwise good kids seem to make poor decisions when they are among their peers. In seeking an answer to this question, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on teens, college students and adults to determine if there are differences in brain activity when making decisions alone versus with their friends. What they found is that, “teen peer pressure has a distinct effect on brain signals involving risk and reward,” which may explain in part why youth are at greater...

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