Health risks differ across an individual’s life span and one reason for this is that adolescents take more risks than adults and younger children (Taylor & Sirois, 2011). The greatest threat to an adolescents health often come from preventable causes, this can be seen in the fact that adolescents have the highest rates of crime, auto mobile accidents, violence, drug and alcohol use and sexual risk taking than all other age groups (Gardner & Steinberg, 2005). Many of the current risk taking prevention methods such as the DARE program are largely ineffective which suggests that a lot of the current thoughts of risk taking in adolescence is wrong (Taylor & Sirois, 2011). One of the major challenges for psychologists is to try and understand why risk taking is more common in adolescence than in other periods of life. This paper will look at recent studies to help explain why adolescents have high rates of risk taking compared to other age groups looking at the neurodevelopmental side of things and the effect of peer presence on adolescents. It will also try to propose new research directions that can hopefully help decrease risk-taking in adolescents.
The presence of peers has a big effect on the risk taking in adolescents (Albert et al, 2013). A study in 2005 by Gardner and Steinberg examined the effect of peers in risk taking on three age groups; early adolescents, late adolescents and middle aged adults. The participants would participate in a computerized driving “chicken game” in which it would challenge the drivers to get as far around a track as possible while avoiding crashing into a randomized wall that may appear (Gardner & Steinberg, 2005). The computer would randomly choose if there were to be a single p...
... middle of paper ...
...we could reduce risk taking by a lot and ultimately stop the high rate of preventable deaths in adolescents.
Albert, D., Chein, J., & Steinberg, L. (2013). Peer influences on adolescent decision making. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 80-86.
Gardner, M., & Steinberg, L. (2005). Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: An experimental study. Developmental Psychology, 41, 625–635.
Steinberg L. (2007). Risk-taking in adolescence: New perspectives from brain and behavioral science. Current Directions in Psychological Science;16:55–59.
Steinberg, L. (2008). A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk taking. Developmental Review, 28, 78-106.
Taylor, S., & Sirois, F. (2011). Health Psychology: Second Canadian Edition. Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson Higher Education.
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