Peer pressure by itself has both positive and negative impacts. For instance, both high and low academy progress and performance are closely connected to peer influences.
Peer groups have so much influence, especially with students because, no matter how incorrect it seems to students, belonging to a group really give students something nice and they find enjoyment in those same groups. Peer groups provide a place where students in universities feel accepted where they can feel better about themselves, and where their self-esteem is improved. Peer groups can assist students form their own identity among their peers. Identity formation is a progressive process where a person gains a sense of self. Student peers provide guideline, and a performing ground for the practice of social behaviors. This allows students to test their roles and discover their identities. The identity formation process is a vital role in any person’s development. This was confirmed by participants who said that some of students at the University of Zambia have huge debts acquired to buy expensive clothes and hair in order be at the same level with other students who are rich.
They also meet and show each other their new expensive phones, clothes, hair and many other material things making others desire to join them.Peer groups provide view outside of the individual’s viewpoints. They also learn to develop relationships with others within the peer group.
These groups at times become very important for teaching other members customs, social norms, and different ideologies. Social behaviors can be encouraged or discouraged by social groups, and this study has shown that change of the way of life and formation of social groups are disposed to peer influence and this is supported by (36.7%) and (16.7%) respectively. Peer pressure among students provide an influential social setting in which the peer groups are established and imposed through socialization processes that promote in-group similarity. When members of student peer groups interconnect and agree on what defines them as a group, a normative code that acts as their behavior instruction arises. This normative code can become very firm, such as when deciding on clothing attire and those from strict normative code can lead to refusal from the group.
According to the findings from participants, Change of life style was seen as the major indicator of peer pressure which was at (36.7%), academic progress at (16.7%), Lack of independent decision making at (12%), Social groups’ formation at (16.7%) and irresponsible behavior at (17.8%).Furthermore, Lack of independent decision making can sometimes lead to loss of independence among students which can be the biggest hindrance. It is very vital for students themselves to realize that it is not about fitting in a set mold of characters and skills but rather it is about being part of the group and yet holding their individuality.
In order to carry out daily tasks and professional tasks, decision making is very vital as indicated by (100%) of participants because it contains the choice of a course of action from among alternatives. Decisions among students are not influenced by third parties. Making decisions among students can be held up by a number of factors including their peer group but this should not influence the decisions they make. Independent decision making is a process which one observes individual judgments in the context of needs, likings that one search for to undertake. In social groups decisions are likely to be involuntary based on the benefits of the decision made.
The decisions made in the social groups can either lead to an individual behaving responsibly or irresponsibly. In this study majority of the respondents interviewed agreed that peer pressure influences responsible behavior while only a few agreed that peer pressure influences irresponsible behavior. Change in lifestyle and formation of social groups tend to influence an individual to act responsibly while irresponsible behaviors and lack of independent decision making are the negative effects of peer pressure. Peer pressure can result into loss of independence for example, the tendency of joining the fashion usually leads to loss of originality of thoughts and conduct.
Yielding to the pressure from peer students tend to start acting irresponsibly and fail to make decisions independently. This in particular happens when a student has no inclination towards a particular field yet compelled by the peer group to subscribe to the same. Moreover, If one is fortunate enough to get a good peer group, he/she can be influenced to shape their personality in a positive way which will later lead to change of lifestyle. The judgment students make is sometimes influenced by peer pressure among students. From a positive aspect for example, it motivates students to do their best. The effect can be viewed as direct, indirect and individual effect on students. Under direct effect, a student could experience peer pressure in making a certain judgment as someone possibly a group leader where he or she is told how to behave and this could affect how he or she makes decisions but in a minimal way.
So from the findings, it really shows that pressure from peers affects decision making, responsible and irresponsible behavior among students.