Thursday, January 08, 2015

Misfit or Miss Goody Two Shoes? Adolescent misperceptions abound

Public Release: 7-Jan-2015

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford find teens are influenced by 'caricatures' of their peers' sexual and drug-use behaviors.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Jan. 7, 2015) - It's true: teens are misunderstood. But apparently, teens themselves have dramatic misperceptions about what their peers are doing when it comes to sex, drugs and studying, possibly prompting them to conform to social norms that don't exist.

That's according to new research that shows adolescents overestimate the amount of drug- and alcohol-use and sexual behaviors that many of their peers are engaging in. At the same time, they underestimate the amount of time their peers spend on studying or exercise.

"The behavior of all types of kids are grossly misunderstood or misperceived by adolescents, not just the jocks and the populars but also the brains and the burnouts," said senior investigator Mitch Prinstein, John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill, where the study was based and spearheaded by Sarah Helms, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab at the time. Researchers at Stanford and Tillburg University also co-authored the study.

"Adolescents tend to conform to stereotypes that we have seen in the Breakfast Club, but those stereotypes do not exist as dramatically as we once thought," he said.


Since teens are sensitive to the judgment of their peers and often try to emulate the "cool kids," researchers are working to better understand the role that peers play during this impressionable period. This particular study shed light on the extent of adolescent misperceptions as well as its implications.

"This quest for identity can sometimes lead adolescents in the wrong direction," said Geoffery Cohen, a co-author and professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education.


"Adolescents conform not to what others do, but what they think others do. The lesson of this research is that adolescents are wrong - most kids aren't as risky as they may think," Prinstein said.


No comments:

Post a Comment