Why do adolescents make risky decisions? Studies show that emotions influence adult risk decision-making, but affect-decision links have been largely overlooked in developmental research. We suggest that affect influences decision-making even more strongly in adolescents. This affective susceptibility may help adolescents to solve developmental tasks, but may also be fatal when decisions can cause serious harm.
In an ongoing series of experimental and survey studies we examine affective influences on decision-making in adolescents and young adults. Our experimental studies show that positive and negative affect triggers risky decision-making more strongly in adolescents compared to young adults, for example regarding decisions to smoke, to drink, or to drive with a drunk driver. Interindividual differences in affect regulation may account for these differences in affective susceptibility. Moreover, our studies show that positive affect promotes goal engagement in general, which points to the functionality of affect. Furthermore, a study is currently underway, which examines affective influences on risk decision-making in adolescents with risky vs. normative alcohol use (diploma thesis Jana Hädicke).
This project is funded by the Center for Applied Developmental Science (CADS).
- Haase, C. M., & Silbereisen, R. K. (in prep.). No fun, no risk? Affective influences on risk decision-making in adolescents and young adults.
- Hädicke, J. (in prep.). Alkoholkonsum im Jugendalter: Psychosoziale Korrelate und affective Einflüsse auf Risikoentscheidungen [Alcohol use in adolescence: Psychosocial correlates and affective influences on risk decision-making].
- Fröhlich, C., Haase, C. M., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2006, March). Affective influences on risk decision-making in adolescence and young adulthood. To be presented at the 11th biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Francisco, CA.
R. K. Silbereisen , C. M. Haase & J. Heckhausen