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Helping adolescents understand risk

To better understand adolescent risk-taking behavior, Vinod Venkatraman, along with graduate student Gail Rosenbaum and Temple College of Liberal Arts Professor Jason Chein, investigated whether specific situations led to adolescents and adults taking different rates of risk.

Research found that adolescents took more risks than adults in situations with unlikely, but greatly consequential, negative outcomes—such as getting into a vehicle with a tipsy driver. Adolescents were more likely to take these risks when experiencing the situation first hand, as opposed to when asked to make a decision about hypothetical situations.

Findings suggest that risk-prevention programs need to move beyond prescriptive education, and instead be tailored in consideration with how teens actually experience risk as they navigate their adolescence.