Study: Peers, not profs, influence student views

Posted: Updated:

You may not recognize the child you sent off to college a couple of years ago. Or maybe it's just your child's politics that have changed.

New research finds that on a range of issues, including abortion, gay marriage and religion, college students shift noticeably to the left from the time they arrive on campus through their junior year.

But the researchers believe faculty members aren't to blame. Instead, they say it's the influence of fellow students. They've found that at most colleges, left-leaning peer groups are more common than conservative ones.

Once students leave college, the study finds, they move somewhat back to the right politically. And that's particularly true for women.

The research, from UCLA, is the latest of several efforts to shed some light on an issue that's long been debated. College faculty generally lean left politically, but there's been sharp disagreement on whether the instructors impose their views on students.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)