Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

No fear: Why teens are likelier to take gambles

Date:
October 15, 2012
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
A new study finds that adolescents commonly take more risks than younger children and adults because they are more willing to accept risks when consequences are unknown, rather than because they are attracted to danger, as often assumed.

A new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers and their colleagues finds that adolescents commonly take more risks than younger children and adults because they are more willing to accept risks when consequences are unknown, rather than because they are attracted to danger, as often assumed.

Adolescents have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases and criminal behaviors of any age group, and even drive faster than adults. The death and injury rate of adolescents is 200% greater than for their younger peers, according to research cited in the study.

Ifat Levy, assistant professor in comparative medicine and neurobiology at Yale, and colleagues report their results Oct. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences. They explored risk-taking by studying a group of adolescents and a group of mid-life adults who were asked to make choices that involved known and unknown risks.

The 65 study participants, who ranged in age from 12 to 50, were asked to make a series of financial decisions in a lottery, each with varying degrees of risk. In some trials, subjects were told the exact probabilities of winning a lottery. In a separate, ambiguous lottery, they were not given the precise probabilities of winning, making the level of risk uncertain.

Levy and her team found that when risks were precisely stated, adolescents avoided them at least as much -- and sometimes more -- than adults. But adolescents were much more tolerant of ambiguity in situations where the likelihood of winning and losing was unknown. When the risk involved was not precisely known, they were more willing to accept them, compared to adults.

This makes sense biologically, Levy said. "Young organisms need to be open to the unknown in order to gain information about their world," she said. "From a policy perspective it means that informing adolescents as much as possible about the likelihoods for the costs and benefits of risky behaviors may effectively reduce their engagement in such behaviors."

Levy said it is not that adolescents lack the cognitive ability to understand their actions -- adolescents are just as smart as adults. "Behavioral economics tells us that risk-taking is not a simple process," she said. "It is affected by our attitudes toward known risks, but also by our attitudes toward unknown or ambiguous situations, in which the likelihoods for positive and negative outcomes are not known."

Other authors on the study included Agnieszka Tymula, Lior Rosenberg Belmaker, Amy K. Roy, Lital Ruderman, Kirk Manson, and Paul W. Glimcher.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging Grant.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Tymula, L. A. Rosenberg Belmaker, A. K. Roy, L. Ruderman, K. Manson, P. W. Glimcher, I. Levy. Adolescents' risk-taking behavior is driven by tolerance to ambiguity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1207144109

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "No fear: Why teens are likelier to take gambles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121015131819.htm>.
Yale University. (2012, October 15). No fear: Why teens are likelier to take gambles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121015131819.htm
Yale University. "No fear: Why teens are likelier to take gambles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121015131819.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. 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:

More Coverage


Tolerance for Ambiguity Explains Adolescents' Penchant for Risky Behaviors

Oct. 1, 2012 It is widely believed that adolescents engage in risky behaviors because of an innate tolerance for risks, but a new study has found this is not the ... read more
from the past week

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