Effect of peer presence on adolescents' risk‐taking is moderated by individual self‐esteem: An experimental study

Dawei Wang, Lu Liu, Dayong Xia, Xinyue Dong, Lumei Tian
Published Online:
24 Jul 2019

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Prior research suggests that the presence of peers increases adolescents' risk‐taking. However, it is not clear whether the effect of peer presence is moderated by individual characteristics such as self‐esteem, since individuals with low self‐esteem are more susceptible to peer influence theoretically. The present study examined this problem using an adapted Stoplight Game in an experiment. A final sample of 140 adolescent students aged 14–18 (M = 16.25 ± 0.73 years, 61 girls), divided into two groups—low self‐esteem and high self‐esteem, according to their self‐esteem scores, completed a risk‐taking task either alone or in the presence of a same‐sex peer. The results indicated that peer presence increased adolescents' risk‐taking, specifically for those with low self‐esteem, while those with high self‐esteem were not affected by peer presence. The findings are helpful for our understanding of peer influence on adolescent risk‐taking and the moderating role of the self and have practical implications for preventing and intervening adolescents' risk‐taking via increasing their self‐esteem.

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