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Peer Effects

For better or worse, peers influence each other frequently. These effects are often subtle yet significant. For instance, youth who are more intrinsically motivated at school (love learning) can spread their inspiration to other students. Likewise, neighbors who value literacy and education can share their passion for lifelong learning, making it more likely that other residents, both youth and adult, will also embrace more rigorous educational opportunities. Neighbors can influence each other’s happiness without even knowing it. One trick about studying peer effects is that researchers must control for many individual variables because people often project onto others the characteristics that they relish and want others to have. For instance, a very optimistic person may assume that his or her friends are nearly as optimistic ...

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