Date of Award

4-18-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Committee Chair

Catherine A. Miller, Ph.D.

Abstract

In order to better understand the extent to which peer influence affects children's decision making behaviors in risky situations, a review of the literature examining children's persuasive strategies and their responses to persuasion by peers in risk situations was conducted. This examination of the literature suggests that there may be initial evidence to indicate that children primarily use verbal persuasion techniques, boys' persuasions emphasize fun while girls' emphasize safety, and that children's responses to persuasion from peers is context specific. However, the majority of the studies reviewed suffer from significant methodological problems such as the lack of a control group and low numbers of participants. Further, many of the findings from the studies contradict each other regarding important variables such as the role that friendship quality may play in responses to peer persuasion. Before any firm conclusions can be made about children's responses to peer influence in risk situations, there needs to be a vast improvement in the methodologies of the studies that research this topic. Suggestions for further research are made based on the limitations identified in this literature review.

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