The Power of Peer Pressure

Might Peer

Have you ever known someone that feels that you are damned if you do – or damned if you don’t? Or, have you known someone you feel you cannot satisfy – no matter what – because they feel you can do better?

According to Dion (2004), an Urban Dictionary blogger, these are your “haters.” Dion defined a hater as “a person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy, they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.” (Dion, 2004). Dion continued by defining the act of “hating” as “… the result of being a hater is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn’t want to be the person he or she hates; rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch.” (Dion, 2004).

By contrast, Dictionary.com defines “peers,” in context of this post, as “a person who is equal to another in abilities, qualifications, age, background, and social status.” (“Peers | Define Peers at Dictionary.com,” n.d.)

Albert Bandura (1996, 2003, 2012), a David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology psychologist at Stanford University, has studied the impact of positive and negative influences of feedback on the human psyche for decades. Bandura argues that one’s beliefs and aspirations can be both directly and indirectly associated with how others feel about them.  Bandura warns a person’s self-perception drives their academic development. Therefore, it is important to ensure those with whom you interact realize and respect the power they have over you (Bandura, 2012).

In other words, if the people in your life continually tell you that you are dumb – you will do dumb things – even if you are actually smart.  So, Mama was right when she used to say, “Watch the company that you keep.”

As a person, who, thankfully, have been worthy of having many, many “haters” over the course of my life – I tend to agree.  I give no celebration to my “haters” in this post, although I am thankful for all they taught me. Instead, I dedicate this post to a peer, to whom I will be eternally grateful.

Why? Let’s explore the reason.

My assignments this week required me to prepare an instructional design document for a 40-hour online training program.  The task also required that I partner with a “peer reviewer,” who was tasked with critiquing my design before final submission.  After writing like the wind trying to pull together the best instructional design I could imagine – I got a surprise.  The peer that I least expected agreed to partner with me for the project.

Understand – my fear was well placed.  Not only was my peer reviewer a classmate, but “Ms. Mighty Peer” is also a REAL an online instructional designer and has been for many years. I had taken another instructional design course with this expert last semester and week after week, I had read her posts, blogs and shared assignments. I would usually end up shaking my head in awe and amazement. This woman knows her stuff.

So, I was both pleasantly surprised and apprehensive when she agreed to partner with me as my peer reviewer. The opportunity to partner with her would expose my instructional design to an industry-level review by an industry expert. But, the risk was –  “Ms. Mighty Peer” had been positioned to embarrass me. Should she decide my design was not good, she was obligated to post my shame publicly on our class discussion board for all to see. (Gulp.) I was a little intimidated I must admit.

Therefore, imagine my surprise and joy when the feedback I received from “Ms. Mighty Peer” came back positive and mostly complimentary!  (What!  Huh!)  She did point out several weaknesses and typographical errors; but, overall – she liked it!  (Yeah!!!)

I now stand as living proof of Bandura’s theories regarding “The Power of Peer Pressure.” In fact, because of the positive feedback I received from “Ms. Mighty Peer”, I feel confident that my aspirations of becoming an online instructional designer are grounded in reality.

(Thanks, Haley.)

References

Bandura, A. (2012). On the functional properties of perceived self-efficacy revisited. Journal of Management, 38(1), 9-44. doi:10.1177/0149206311410606

Bandura, A., & Locke, E. A. (2003). Negative self-efficacy and goal effects revisited. Journal Of Applied Psychology, 88(1), 87-99. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.88.1.87

Bandura, A., Barbaranelli, C., Vittorio Caprara, G., & Pastorelli, C. (1996). Multifaceted impact of self-efficacy beliefs on academic functioning. Child Development, 67(3), 1206-1222. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01791.x

Dion. (2005, February 4). Urban Dictionary: hater. Retrieved from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hater

Peers | Define Peers at Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/peers

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