Peer difficulty occurs when a peer group exerts direct or indirect pressure to conform. Peer pressure can bring about changes in behavior, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. While peer pressure is most frequently used to describe the influence of friends on children and teenagers, all people can be subject to peer pressure.
Peer groups should be broadly defined when understanding peer pressure. For example, peer pressure can be exerted by television that conveys to a person the acceptable way to behave, by political figures who appeal to nationalism or ideology, by families that appeal to family loyalty or traditions, and by any other group with which a person identifies. There is a strong human motivation to be a member of a group, and group membership typically requires some degree of conformity. Not all conformity is damaging. For example, a peer group that exerts pressure on a member to care for a sick parent is exerting positive peer pressure. However, peer pressure is most commonly associated with negative influences such as the pressure to use drugs, smoke, defy authority, and engage in promiscuous sex.