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ERIC Number: EJ1050285
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Deciding in the Dark: Age Differences in Intuitive Risk Judgment
Shulman, Elizabeth P.; Cauffman, Elizabeth
Developmental Psychology, v50 n1 p167-177 Jan 2014
Elevated levels of risky behavior in adolescence may signal developmental change in unconscious appraisal of risk. Yet, prior research examining adolescent risk judgment has used tasks that elicit conscious deliberation. The present study, in contrast, attempts to characterize age differences in (less conscious) intuitive impressions of risk. Participants (N = 282; ages 10-30) were presented with depictions of a range of risky and nonrisky activities. They were given 2.5 s to rate each activity on a continuous scale ranging from "bad idea" (low-risk favorability) to "good idea" (high-risk favorability). A curvilinear pattern was found, such that favorability ratings increased across adolescence and peaked around age 20. These results pose a challenge to developmental models that view early adolescence as the period of greatest predisposition toward risk taking; however, they are fairly consistent with age patterns for actual risk taking, at least with respect to crime, binge drinking, and unwanted pregnancy.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Sensation Seeking Scale
Grant or Contract Numbers: SES-1024961