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Sex, Drugs, and Pluralistic Ignorance: Why Smart Groups Do Dumb Things

“The number-one reason why adolescents engage in risky behaviors is peer influence,” he said. “Kids are influenced by their perception of what their peers are doing. But their perception is wrong!” The researchers showed that 9th graders with more exaggerated ideas of their popular peers’ drug use were more likely to do drugs throughout high school. Other research by Prinstein and Cohen has showed that when you randomly assign kids in a laboratory setting to think that popular kids are deviants, they become more likely to endorse similar risky behavior.