Effective Strategies for Resisting Negative Pressures

Pressure is a factor in most people’s lives, coming to them through work, school, family and more. Some of these pressures are positive, but many can be negative. If people give in to these influences, the results can be disastrous. Learning to resist negative pressures is important in many areas of life, including driving. When people can resist negative pressures, they can more easily maintain a good balance in their lives and in everything that they do.

Most students know the pressures of life at their age, dealing with the expectations of their peers, teachers, parents and others. Sometimes those pressures may be good, helping to encourage them to be diligent and care for others. Often, however, pressures in school and elsewhere in life can be negative and lead to the wrong types of behaviour. Some people find these negative behaviours easier to resist than other people do, but they all face similar issues as they choose which type of life they want to live.  

In their school years, many young people might assume that these types of pressures are confined mostly to their age group. However, positive or negative pressures continue into the rest of life as people find work or start their own families. The pressures might come from elderly parents, employers, spouses or others in the community, but they can be as strong as they are for younger people. With outside pressures changing but lasting throughout life, everyone should know techniques for resisting negative influences.

Non-Conformist Personalities

As Sam Cook writes in his article on resisting social influence on the Revise Psychology web page, going against social influences is easier for some people than for others. People with non-conformist personalities tend to be less concerned with social norms than with making their own decisions. They can more easily resist peer pressure than other people can. In some cases, these people with non-conformist personalities will even deliberately choose to go against expected behaviour, regardless of what it is. They may make wrong choices, but pressure from other people will not normally be a factor.

Some people can resist social influence regardless of whether they are alone in holding their position or not, but other people need support from their friends and family to be able to maintain their values. The study cited on the Revise Psychology web page found that having allies is important for helping people resist pressure. Even if the advice from these allies is wrong at times, having outside support can reinforce people’s determination to go against the majority.

Very few people are able to maintain an unpopular idea without at least some support. The feeling of being alone in holding an opinion can make people feel very isolated, and it can be easy to conform simply for the feeing of being part of a group. If the pressure moves people towards something good, that feeling can be helpful. Often, however, the pressure is negative, and the consequences can often be harmful or even deadly.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure among young drivers is one example of the kind of issue that people can face. According to a 2015 study by Alexandra Gheorgiu and Patricia Delhomme on peer pressure and young drivers, the presence of passengers of the same age in a vehicle can make a difference for young drivers. Having friends along for the ride can often prompt young drivers to be reckless, showing off what their vehicles can do as they speed, turn corners too quickly or otherwise take unnecessary risks. This kind of behaviour can continue into adulthood, but it is often associated with young drivers.

The passengers in the vehicle can make a difference in how young drivers behave. When young drivers are alone or with family members, they tend to drive much more cautiously than when they are with their peers. Having friends in the vehicle tends to influence young drivers both directly and indirectly to engage in riskier behaviour. Resisting negative pressures appears to be difficult in many of these cases, although young drivers can still find ways to deal constructively with these issues.

Anonymity Behind the Wheel

Part of the issue with negative influences on drivers is the feeling of anonymity that comes from being inside a vehicle. As the web page regarding Psychology on the Road of the Association for Psychological Sciences notes, road rage and other extreme behaviours tend to come from the detachment that drivers have from their surroundings when they are inside their vehicles with the doors locked. Tinted windows can add to that sense of disconnection with what is happening outside.

When drivers feel little or no connection with what is happening on the road, they can more easily justify reacting angrily to anything that annoys or otherwise disturbs them. Being cut off or being stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle can make people angry. With the anonymity of being inside a vehicle, drivers may feel that they can respond more emotionally than they otherwise would if they were face to face with a person.

Resisting the negative pressure to become angry may be harder in this situation than it otherwise would be, but drivers can learn to deal with their reactions. Deciding to practice courtesy is a good first step, and deliberately deciding to take note of other road users can help drivers become aware of the needs of the people around them.

The Effect of Large Vehicles

Another tactic for reducing negative pressure on the road is to realize the intimidating effect of large vehicles and aggressive driving techniques. When drivers in large vehicles speed past smaller cars, cyclists or pedestrians, they can cause accidents or at least make the roads unpleasant places for these people to be. As the Psychology of the Road website notes, large vehicles can be used as instruments of dominance, asserting the driver’s sense of superior power.

Drivers may have good reasons for operating large and intimidating vehicles, such as when they transport bulky or heavy goods from one place to another. However, they should resist the negative pressure of using the larger size of their vehicles to dominate other road users and to take precedence, disregarding the right-of-way. Instead of trying to dominate the road, drivers of large vehicles should try to give other road users extra space so that they can feel more comfortable while operating their vehicles.

Negative pressures on the road can potentially be deadly. Commercial truck drivers, for example, often work on tight deadlines and may feel that they have too little time to be courteous. However, planning time for various contingencies and making a conscious decision to be courteous can help. Avoiding competition with other drivers is also important, as competitive attitudes can frequently lead drivers to act rashly, speeding or making other dangerous maneuvers.

For other road users, the choice of vehicle can often make a difference. Large and loud vehicles can often be status symbols among certain groups of people, especially young men who may also be tempted to drive recklessly to show off the engine’s power. For example, a May 2020 CBC article described an incident in which a driver on the Queen Elizabeth Way near Burlington, Ontario was caught travelling at 308 kilometres per hour. Although this particular driver survived his extremely dangerous behaviour, he put himself and everyone else on the road at risk.  

Although individual drivers may decide to engage in these types of behaviours on their own, peer pressure is often a factor in dangerous driving, especially when groups of people join in the activity. For example, an April 2021 Global News article describes how a crowd gathered in Toronto to watch a stunt driving event at intersections in the city. The negative pressure of being in a lockdown, combined with peer pressure, can often lead drivers to engage in dangerous activities like street racing.

Being Informed and Planning Well

Becoming informed of the dangers is a good way for some people to resist negative pressures, whether on the road or elsewhere in life. Knowing about some of the situations that people have been in can help drivers to understand which actions can be dangerous. With this knowledge, they can anticipate possible problems and avoid getting into dangerous situations if possible, or at least mentally prepare for what is coming next.

Good planning can help drivers and people in general to resist negative pressures. For drivers, leaving early enough to get to their destination can help keep them from speeding or going through red lights and stop signs. Planning the route in advance, taking note of any possible problems and checking the weather for any conditions that might cause problems can help road users resist any negative pressures to drive dangerously.  

The same principle can apply in other areas of life, together with other strategies. Planning ahead for completing assignments at work or projects at school, for example, can give people the ability to work at a good pace that minimizes stress and helps them to avoid taking shortcuts that could cause problems later. Similarly, strategies such as setting priorities and being able to discern the functions of authority and rules in decision-making can help.

Resisting negative pressures on the road or in daily life is important for keeping people safe. When people use the techniques that suit them and their situation, they can become more effective at choosing the best options.