If all your friends jumped off that bridge, would you do it too? Well,, according to a new study in Psychological Science.
Researchers led by Lisa Joanna Knoll, a psychologist at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, in the United Kingdom, asked 563 visitors to the London Science Museum to rate the riskiness of common activities such as crossing the street against a light. After one round of risk assessment on a 1-to-10 scale, the guests were shown a randomly generated “rating” labeled as being given by an adult or teenager, and asked to rate the activities again.
In general, all groups tended to alter their risk assessments based on those of others, but the older they got, the more respondents stuck to their original ratings. Children younger than 11 and teenagers and young adults ages 15 and older both were more likely to change their response in reaction to an adult’s risk perception. But only adolescents ages 12 to 14 were more likely to favor another teenager’s view of risk over an adult’s view.
A version of this article appeared in the April 15, 2015 edition of Education Week as Peer Pressure