« Sad Movies Make People Happier, Study Finds | Main | 9-Year-Old Dies Walking to Little League Game »

Toddlers Give In to Peer Pressure, Too?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Parents often warn teens as they reach junior high and high school about the negative effects of peer pressure.  But should parents start worrying about peer pressure earlier?  A new study suggests that even toddlers give in to the influence of their peers.

Researchers reported that 2-year-olds are more likely influenced to copy the actions of three other toddlers than if they saw the same actions carried out by just one other toddler, HealthDay reports.

Study author Daniel Haun, of the Max Planck Institutes of Evolutionary Anthropology and Psycholinguistics in Germany and the Netherlands commented in a release for the journal Current Biology, which also published Haun's findings, that very few people think of children this young as influenced by the majority.  "Parents and teachers should be aware of these dynamics in children's peer interactions," Haun said.

The researchers also found, according to Health Day, similarities for social learning between humans and chimps.  While chimpanzees tend to follow the group, orangutans do not.

But sensitivity to peer pressure does not always have to be negative, Haun pointed out.

"The tendency to acquire the behaviors of the majority has been posited as key to the transmission of relatively safe, reliable and productive behavioral strategies," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio