Skip to main content

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Spoken vs. Unspoken Peer Pressure – Guide for Adult Leader

Updated: 2023

Use the following role-playing exercise to explore and discuss two types of peer pressure—spoken and unspoken pressure—with your middle schooler. To view or download printouts of the scripts, please click here [PDF – 1.26 MB].

Role-Playing Exercise

Give your middle schooler the script and ask them to read the below scenes, and then discuss the type of peer pressure represented: spoken or unspoken.

Scene 1

There are three middle schoolers in this scene. Students 1 and 2 appear to be friends. Student 3 is sitting to one side, doing homework.

Student 1 to Student 3: “Hey, forget your homework and come to the park with us.”

Student 2 to Student 3: “Yeah, it’ll be more fun than homework.”

Parent/Caregiver/Teacher: “Sometimes a friend can say something directly to you that puts a lot of pressure on you and makes it hard to say no. This is spoken pressure.”

Scene 2

A group of three middle schoolers stand together, all wearing sunglasses. There is a middle schooler nearby who is not wearing sunglasses. The middle schooler without sunglasses imagines wearing sunglasses and standing with the other middle schoolers.

Parent/Caregiver/Teacher: “You may think you are supposed to act or dress a certain way because it seems like everyone else is doing it, or because it’s the popular thing to do. When you feel this way even though nobody has said anything about it, this is unspoken pressure.

If you haven’t already, you are going to face both spoken and unspoken pressure in the future. It’s just part of life. The important part is to make the right choices when a peer pressure situation comes up.”

Looking for U.S. government information and services?