Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Look before you leap: Teens still learning to plan ahead

Date:
June 17, 2011
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
Researchers studied strategic planning and problem solving among 890 10-30 year-olds using a computerized test called the Tower of London. Older test takers did better on the tower test, showing a greater ability to plan ahead and solve problems. On the hardest problems, mature performance wasn't seen until at least age 22. These findings have implications for programs that target adolescents' still-emerging capacity to plan ahead, control impulses, regulate emotions, and resist peer pressure.

Although most teens have the knowledge and reasoning ability to make decisions as rationally as adults, their tendency to make much riskier choices suggests that they still lack some key component of wise decision making. Why is this so? Because adolescents may not bother to use those thinking skills before they act. That's the finding of a new study by researchers at Temple University that appears in the journal Child Development.

Related Articles


"The study's findings have important implications for debates about whether adolescents should be held to the same standards of criminal and other responsibility as adults," according to Dustin Albert, a PhD candidate at Temple who authored the study. "Research charting age differences in such capacities is increasingly being consulted for guidance on social and legal policies concerning adolescents."

The study tested a diverse group of 890 individuals between the ages of 10 and 30, using a computerized test of strategic planning and problem solving called the Tower of London. The test asks individuals to rearrange a stack of three differently colored balls to match a picture of a new arrangement, using as few moves as possible. Test takers have to plan ahead, using a sequence of actions to bridge the gap between the game board and the target board. The study also tested individuals on a battery of tasks related to reasoning, memory, and self-control.

Older test takers did better on the tower test, showing greater ability to plan ahead and solve problems. On the hardest problems, mature performance wasn't seen until at least age 22. Since solving the hardest problems on the test is known to make strong demands on the brain's frontal lobes and teens' frontal lobes are still maturing, this finding wasn't unexpected, according to the researchers.

Follow-up analyses suggested that when older individuals (those in their late teens and early adult years) did better on the tests, it was because of improvements in impulse control, which may have allowed them to plan their solutions more fully before they acted.

"Late developmental improvements in problem solving may have less to do with getting smarter and more to do with a growing capacity to settle down and think things through before acting," according to Albert. "Programs that target adolescents' still-emerging capacity to plan ahead, control their impulses, regulate their emotions, and resist peer pressure may help bolster youngsters' ability to make good decisions in the real world."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dustin Albert and Laurence Steinberg. Age Differences in Strategic Planning as Indexed by the Tower of London. Child Development, 16 June 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01613.x

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Look before you leap: Teens still learning to plan ahead." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110617081535.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2011, June 17). Look before you leap: Teens still learning to plan ahead. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110617081535.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Look before you leap: Teens still learning to plan ahead." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110617081535.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2015) Each week, millions of Americans take acetaminophen to dull minor aches and pains. Now researchers say it might blunt life&apos;s highs and lows, too. Video provided by Newsy
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