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Discuss the influence of peers on moral development.

Peers can have a significant impact on moral development.

During adolescence, peers become increasingly important in shaping an individual's moral values. Peer pressure can lead to conformity and the adoption of group norms, which can influence moral decision-making. For example, if a group of friends engage in risky behaviour, an individual may feel pressure to participate in order to fit in. This can lead to a shift in moral values, where the desire for social acceptance outweighs the individual's personal moral code. Studies such as Asch’s Conformity Study illustrate how significantly peer pressure can enforce conformity.

However, peers can also provide positive role models and support the development of prosocial behaviour. Peer relationships can provide opportunities for empathy, cooperation and moral reasoning. Through interactions with peers, individuals can learn to consider the perspectives of others and develop a sense of social responsibility. This can lead to the development of moral values such as compassion and fairness. Interactions within groups can sometimes lead to groupthink and polarization, affecting decisions that might compromise an individual’s moral standards.

It is important to note that the influence of peers on moral development is not necessarily negative or positive, but rather depends on the nature of the peer group and the individual's own values. Peers can both challenge and reinforce an individual's moral beliefs, leading to a complex and dynamic process of moral development. Additionally, the impact of peer influence extends to shaping attitudes towards prejudice and discrimination, which are crucial aspects of moral development.

A-Level Psychology Tutor Summary: Peers greatly impact your moral development during your teenage years. They can pressure you to match their behaviour, sometimes good, sometimes bad, affecting your moral choices. Positive friendships can teach you empathy and fairness, while negative ones might push you to compromise your morals for acceptance. Your moral growth is shaped by these interactions, reflecting a mix of your values and peer influence.

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