Conformity Among Teenagers

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Strong, supportive friendships and a drive to fit in with peers during adolescence may be one of the best predictors of long-term health, a recent study published in Psychological Science demonstrates. People who had close teenage friendships exhibit less stress and stress-related symptoms later in life, acutely improving adult physical wellbeing.

In finding that friendship improves health, the researchers have turned the familiar, fuzzy feeling of friendship into a medical metric. They claim that the adolescent drive to make friends and fit in may even be instinctual, dating back to humans ' primordial, power-in-numbers mentality. Even as Western culture no longer relies on tribalism for survival and lauds individual autonomy, adolescent 's bodies may be pushing them to conform to peer pressure in order to protect their health later in life.

How They Studied This: Like the Movie Boyhood, Without the Cameras

The researchers ' most recent round of health tests was done on 171 people 27 years of age, comparing their body mass index, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and overall health. But these are the same 171 people that the researchers have been following for the past 14 years, starting when they were in 7th or 8th grade.

Researchers chose this diverse group of 171 early teenagers from all different backgrounds and socio-economic classes. Each
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Yes and no. If the finding that adolescent friendship improves health is adopted by mainstream medicine and psychology—which is by no means a guarantee—then yes, psychologists and doctors will begin considering teenage friendship as a contributing factor to later-life health problems. They may also be less complicit with some teen 's insistence on straying from the pack, warning that an obsession with independence and differentiation may lead to health problems down the line. Peer pressure, apparently, is not so bad

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