Peers encourage risky behaviour just by being there

Worrying findings in a study reported at ScienceDaily this week.

Teenagers are generally regarded to be at a stage where risk-taking behaviour is more common. We now have an indicator of why this behaviour occurs at a time in a person’s development.

A scenario was devised to test whether teenagers were more likely to engage in risky actions in the presence of their peers. The answer, sadly, was yes.

One of the study’s authors, Lawrence Steinberg, says “We know that when one is rewarded by one thing then other rewards become more salient. Because adolescents find socializing so rewarding, we postulate that being with friends primes the reward system and makes teens pay more attention to the potential pay offs of a risky decision.”

Having friends is a risky business when you’re a teen.


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