Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Positive Peer Pressure

This Slate article contends that girls do better when surrounded by intelligent female peers whereas boys may not fair as well when confronted by intelligent male peers.  I don't know enough to comment wisely on the premise or the research, but the following quotations struck me as extremely perceptive.  First, it seems that a few bad apples may spoil the whole barrel.
The studies examined the academic achievement of high school students and found that being surrounded by underachieving classmates has a negative effect on girls and boys—both genders feel pressure to conform to the lower standards of their peers (Bold Mine, Italics in original) (Fisman, The Right Kind of Peer Pressure, 11/5/2010).
Second, the Demotivational geniuses are correct; when people are given the opportunity to do as they please, they usually imitate each other (, Conformity).  It will be hard for anyone, especially high school students avoid that trap.
The takeaway from all of this is clear for parents looking to maximize their kids' SAT scores—surround your daughters with smart peers and make sure to keep any kid, boy or girl, away from the influence of academic laggards. Both boys (discouraged by stiff competition) and girls (deterred by peer disapproval) might also look back on the advice dispensed by Mary Pipher in the closing pages of Reviving Ophelia. Adolescents, she writes, need to "forge self-definitions independent of peer pressure." (Bold Mine) (Fisman, The Right Kind of Peer Pressure, 11/5/2010).

1 comment:

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