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January 28, 1974

Peer Perceptions

Author Affiliations

Brooklyn, NY

JAMA. 1974;227(4):440-441. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230170056027

To the Editor.—  The editorial comment by Dr. Hussey (226:661, 1973) properly calls attention to an interesting study by Kandel on the use of marihuana by adolescents.1 Her finding in regard to peer influence closely parallels my own.2 In a study of secondary school children I found that the prevalence both of alcohol and of illicit drugs (chiefly marihuana) bore a direct relation to the proportion of friends who used these substances and, more significantly, to the proportion of classmates who were perceived to be users. This latter finding raises an interesting question, namely, why does the user selectively perceive, perhaps even misperceive, widespread use where the nonuser does not, even in the same classroom? It would seem that the young person employs this perception of universality to legitimize and rationalize his own use.My study did not examine parental drug or medication habits but it did give