Playlist teacher guide - Peer influence

Playlist information

Playlist summary

This playlist explores the role that peer influence plays on our behaviours and actions.

Playlist purpose

As a result of engaging with the media items in this playlist students will:

  • Understand the nature of peer influence and how it can influence decisions, behaviours and actions.
  • Explore different ways that peers can exert influence on others.
  • Practise strategies to build their self-confidence in order to be more assertive when experiencing peer pressure.

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Learning objectives

  • Understand the nature of social power and the dynamics of peer influence on decisions, behaviours and actions within groups.

Key messages

  • Peer influence can have a strong impact on attitudes, decisions and behaviours during early adolescence.

Year level(s) appropriate for

Year 7, Year 8, Year 9

Australian curriculum links

Practice and apply strategies to seek help for themselves and others.

Investigate the benefits of relationships and examine their impact on their own and others’ health and wellbeing.

Evaluate strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older.

Investigate and select strategies to promote health, safety and wellbeing.

Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others.

Examine the impact of changes and transitions on relationships.

Propose, practise and evaluate responses in situations where external influences may impact on their ability to make healthy and safe choices.

Media items

Peer influence introduction

Type: Slides.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: These slides introduce the Peer influence playlist.

Teacher notes:

Slide 1: What is peer influence?

Peer influence is when you choose to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do because you want to feel accepted and valued by your peers and or friends.

Peer influence can be both negative and positive. On the negative side we can do things that might be against or values or beliefs just to fit into a group. This negative peer influence can make you feel bad about yourself. Positive peer influence can be used for good. It can help drive social change and can have an impact when it comes to tackling some of the big issues facing our society.

Slide 2: The power of positive peer influence

As social animals we pay attention to what those around us are doing; and because we like to feel part of the “in” crowd, we’re often willing to conform so that we feel just like everyone else.

Positive peer influence can include little things or really big things. A little thing could be as simple as leaving positive comments after a social media post or news story which can inspire more positive comments and even reduce prejudice from others who see your comments and want to conform.

An impactful use of positive peer pressure could be influencing all of the students in your school through a social media campaign to stop using single use plastics and use reusable containers instead.

Slide 3: Peer influence and risk taking

We can often make choices and behave a certain way because we are worried about how WE THINK our friends will react. Often the reality is that we are only guessing what our friends will think or say. This fear about what our friends will think of us can often drive us to make silly decisions or take risks that we wouldn’t dream of taking usually.

Discuss with students how they could check in with their friends about how they really feel about different behaviours rather than assuming their friends will think differently of them if they don’t take a risk or behave in a certain way?

Slide 4: Being assertive

When you are being assertive, you express yourself clearly and honestly, stand up for yourself and your point of view, and at the same time respect the rights of others.

Being assertive is great for your self-esteem. When you’re respectfully going after the things that are important to you, others will likely respect your confidence and encourage your success. Your assertiveness shows that you respect yourself and other people.

Suggested activities:

Brainstorm with students the types of peer influence and peer pressure they have witnessed at school and in other aspects of their lives.

Ask students what sorts of strategies they could use to overcome or challenge negative pressure from their friends.

The potential of peer influence

Type: Page.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: We are all influenced by our friends and peers. Often in ways that encourage positive behaviour, but also sometimes harmful ways.

Suggested activities:

To expand on the concept of peer influence and unpack it for students in their own lives, discuss the following questions:

  • How do we try to fit in with friends?
  • Why do we sometimes feel pressure to behave in certain ways to maintain friendships?
  • What would you do if you felt too pressured by your friends?

What is peer pressure?

Type: Web.

Duration: 4 minutes.

Source: ReachOut. ()

Summary: Making good mates is important, but sometimes trying to fit in with a group can turn sour. Find out what peer pressure is and how to handle it, including what to do if things get serious.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Have you experienced peer pressure or peer influence at school? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Maybe
    Discussion points:

    It would be very rare for anyone to go through their school life without feeling pressured or influenced by their peers in some way, either negatively or positively.

    Ask students to write about, talk about or draw a response to the following statements:

    • Describe times when your peers have been a positive influence.
    • Describe times when your peers have been a negative influence.

One simple skill to overcome pressure

Type: Video.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Behavioural Science Guys. ()

Summary: Why do we do the things we do? This video shows how behavioural science can be used to explain why smart people do dumb things when they’re simply ‘following the crowd’.

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Would it be easy to be the “odd one out” in an activity when your group of friends are all doing the opposite? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Would depend on the activity
    Discussion points:

    Never underestimate the power of one. When you feel you are the odd person out, don’t stifle your concerns, but learn how to express them respectfully. It turns out the quiet, polite expression of doubt can turn the rest of the group around and get them thinking from a different point of view.

How peers exert influence

Type: Page.

Duration: 6 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: Peer influence is when you choose to do something you wouldn’t otherwise do because you want to feel accepted and valued by your peers and or friends. It’s when group members choose to shape their own behaviour to more closely align to others.

Suggested activities:

Ask students in small groups to develop their own story of a scenario where there is peer pressure and influence exerted on others to do something they don’t want to do.

Ask groups to share their stories with another group. Once each group has shared their story get students to identify the type of pressure or influence being exerted and how the characters could challenge that influence in order to do what they think is right.

Being assertive

Type: Page.

Duration: 3 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: When we are being assertive, we express ourselves clearly and honestly, stand up for ourselves and our point of view, and at the same time respect the rights of others.

Teacher notes:

For more ideas about how to model assertive behaviour check out this Edutopia article.

Suggested activities:

Provide students with a range of scenarios or ask them to develop their own scenarios where one of the character’s is being pressured to do something they don’t feel comfortable doing.

Ask students to write responses that demonstrate assertive, aggressive and passive behaviour.

Ask for volunteers to role play several of the responses to demonstrate the difference between the three types of responses.

Self-confidence: Caileigh Lydon

Type: Video.

Duration: 6 minutes.

Source: TEDx Talks. ()

Summary: We all suffer and have times we lack self-confidence. Caleigh finds that what really helps her is to practice. Practice practice practice!

Survey questions:

  1. Question number 1. Do you think you have self-confidence? Answers
    1. a.Yes
    2. b.No
    3. c.Depends on the situation
    Discussion points:

    Self-confidence is the belief that you’ll be successful or make the right choice in a particular situation.

    Your self-confidence is related to your self-esteem, which is feeling good about yourself and feeling that you’re a worthwhile person. But having high self-esteem doesn’t mean you always feel confident.

    Self-confidence and resilience are related too. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences and cope in hard or stressful situations. If you are resilient and believe you can cope when life is difficult, it will leave you feeling more confident to tackle difficult situations and feel confident to stand up to peer pressure.

    Ask students to identify situations when they feel confident that they will be successful, or they will make the right decision in trying to solve a problem.

    Ask students to think about what skills they have in these situations that gives them confidence.

    • Can they transfer these skills and knowledge to other situations where they might feel less confident?
    • How could they practise these skills so that they can use them in different situations where they don’t feel as confident?


    To explore self-confidence further show the following videos and discuss:

    Just be you - TEDxTalk by Hannah Cramer 

    Hannah emphasises the importance of just being you and the need to embrace who you are but is it that simple.

    Discuss the following questions with students to explore this further:

    • Is it OK to be different? 
    • Who is it that determines whether you are different?
    • How can you embrace who you are in an assertive way that doesn’t compromise who you are in order to “fit in’?

    Lessons on self-confidence from a teenager   

    Reece describes his change in confidence as being the result of utilising five, specific steps: 

    • Find yourself.
    • Stop caring what others think of you.
    • Surround yourself with encouragement.
    • Self-assess your attitude.
    • Be humble.

    Ask students do they think the steps Reece describes are the key to building self-confidence.

    Ask students to identify which of the five steps they think could support them or their friends to build better self-confidence.

    Ask students to add other steps to the list that have worked for them or they think could work for others.

Peer influence conclusion

Type: Slides.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Source: The Good Society.

Summary: These slides conclude the Peer influence playlist.

Teacher notes:

To conclude this playlist, ask students to undertake a reflection activity about what they learnt about peer influence. To provide structure to their reflection work through the following slides:

Slide 1: Challenges

Ask students to record what were some of the most challenging parts of this playlist and what made them so.

Slide 2: Powerful

Ask students to record what were their most powerful learning moments and what made them so?

Slide 3: Personal learning

Ask students to share with a partner what was the most important thing they learned personally? Discuss how this could be different for each student.

Slide 4: Putting it into practice

Ask students to record and share how they will use what they've learnt in the future.

Activities and extras

The learning generated through engaging with this playlist could be reinforced using the following resources and activities.

If you want to further explore peer influence and adolescent behaviour, show students the "stoplight test" which is used by researchers to measure the influence on young people of peers encouraging more risky behaviour, like running a yellow light at a stoplight.

Ask students to discuss how their behaviour might change if they think their friends are watching.