Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teenagers programmed to take risks

Date:
March 25, 2010
Source:
University College London
Summary:
Risk-taking peaks in adolescence, according to scientists in the UK. In a new study, children, adolescents and adults aged 9-35 years chose between risky and safe options in a computer gambling game. Scientists found that the teenagers took the most risks compared with the other groups, with the most risky behaviour seen in 14-year olds.

Risk-taking peaks in adolescence, according to scientists at UCL (University College London).

Related Articles


In research published in the journal Cognitive Development, children, adolescents and adults aged 9-35 years chose between risky and safe options in a computer gambling game. Scientists found that the teenagers took the most risks compared with the other groups, with the most risky behaviour seen in 14-year olds.

The results suggest that teenagers are good at weighing up the pros and cons of their decisions (unlike children) but take risks because they enjoy the thrill of a risky situation more than other age groups -- especially when they have a 'lucky escape'.

"The reason that teenagers take risks is not a problem with foreseeing the consequences. It was more because they chose to take those risks," said Dr Stephanie Burnett from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, and the lead author.

"This is the first evidence from a lab-based study that adolescents are risk-takers. We are one step forward in determining why teenagers engage in extremely risky behaviours such as drug use and unsafe sex," she added.

The study involved 86 boys and men who were asked to play computer games, during which they made decisions in order to win points. After each game scientists measured the participants' emotional response by recording how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with the outcome.

They found that the onset of the teenage years marked an increase in how much enjoyment resulted from winning in a 'lucky escape' situation. This could help explain why teenagers are more likely to take bigger risks.

"The onset of adolescence marks an explosion in 'risky' activities -- from dangerous driving, unsafe sex and experimentation with alcohol, to poor dietary habits and physical inactivity. This contributes to the so-called 'health paradox' of adolescence, whereby a peak in lifetime physical health is paradoxically accompanied by high mortality and morbidity.

"Understanding why adolescents take such risks is important for public health interventions and for families," said Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, also from the UCL Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, and co-author of the research.

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Error: could not find DOI. Adolescents' heightened risk-seeking in a probabilistic gambling task. Cognitive Development, 2010

Cite This Page:

University College London. "Teenagers programmed to take risks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100324211144.htm>.
University College London. (2010, March 25). Teenagers programmed to take risks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100324211144.htm
University College London. "Teenagers programmed to take risks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100324211144.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins