roland@equalpartners.ca
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Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

Peer Pressure and Leadership – I. Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is one of the most intriguing phenomena we have in our society. We tend to associate it with adolescence, and while it is true that it makes its presence felt more so at this time of life than at any other time, it actually exists from 8 to 80 years and beyond. We are all subject to peer pressure. A middle-aged couple who tries to keep up with the Jones is responding to peer pressure.

It is in adolescence, however, that it can cause the greatest harm. At 13 or 14 we reach adulthood; but in a hormonal sense only. Put plainly, we can make a baby and pass on our genes. And if that were to happen, we would have no clue as to what to do next! At such a young age, the brain is still developing, especially the frontal cortex which among other things is responsible for planning, judgment, and control. Yet, as an “adult,” the adolescent stops consulting his parents, instead he turns to his peers for advice. They understand him, but even more important, he needs to belong to a group. If the group rejects him, panic sets in; he needs to get back in their good graces at any cost. There are two questions here: Why is it so critical to belong to a group? Who sets the tone in the group? In other words, who is the leader(s) and what qualifications does that person have? The last part is easy to answer: no leadership qualifications whatsoever! He cannot make simple decisions about his own self, let alone a whole group! I will discuss the leadership aspects in my next section. But for now let me turn to peer pressure.

Evolutionary psychology concerns itself with relating old instincts going back to primitive humans to our behavior as modern people. It helps us understand why we act the way we do, and with understanding we can effect changes. For example, why do modern women look for a (physically) strong man? In primitive times her mate had to be strong to protect her and protect their children. In the modern world this is no longer necessary; but old instincts still persists.

I said that with understanding we can effect changes. When we understood that agriculture can replace gathering, we largely stopped doing so. Future generations of women, armed with the knowledge provided by evolutionary psychology, will use different criteria to select a suitable mate.

Some evolutionary psychologists explain peer pressure as follows:

Imagine, in primitive times, being a member of a clan and finding yourself at odds with the actions of the other members. What do you do? Do you do things your way and ignore the wishes of the other members? This would be a dangerous course of action for you risk being expelled from the clan. And if this were to happen, without the protection of the group, you’re as good as dead! Needless to say, the very thought of being abandoned is very scary, and you will quickly fall into line. Modern adolescents respond to the same instinct despite the fact that being abandoned in a primitive environment no longer exists. But old instincts continue to exercise their power; and that is what makes peer pressure such a strong and harmful force.

So what can we do about it? Education is the answer. Explain to young people why they act the way they do. Don’t wait for the teen years, by then it’s too late. Start at the age of 8 and expand the knowledge as the child grows up. There is a need to be persistent; there will be a lot of false starts at the beginning. However, in time we will find the right formula. And we will one day have a generation that fully understands why they act the way they do and what they can do about it.

It will be naive to assume that peer pressure will completely disappear. It won’t. The goal here is to greatly reduce its nefarious effects.

Article Series - Peer Pressure and Leadership

  1. Peer Pressure and Leadership – I. Peer Pressure
  2. Peer Pressure and Leadership – II. Leadership

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