According to popular stereotype, young teenagers are shortsighted, leaving them prone to poor judgment and risky decision-making when it comes to issues like taking drugs and having sex and a new study confirms that. Teens 16 and younger do think about the future less than adults but the reasons may have less to do with impulsivity and more to do with a desire to do something exciting.
The study, by scientists at Temple University, the University of California, Los Angeles, Georgetown University, the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Colorado, is published in the the journal Child Development.
The researchers looked at more than 900 individuals ranging in age from 10 to 30 and from an ethnically and socio-economically diverse group to determine how people of different ages think about the future consequences of their decisions. They used a new questionnaire and an experimental task called delay discounting, which measures the extent to which people prefer immediate but smaller rewards over delayed but larger ones.
Compared with adults, the researchers found, teenagers consider the future less and prefer immediate rewards over delayed ones (for example, $700 today versus $1,000 a year from now). But it may not be impulsivity that guides their lack of forethought. Instead, the study found that teens are shortsighted more due to immaturity in the brain systems that govern sensation seeking than to immaturity in the brain systems responsible for self-control.
Brain systems governing sensation seeking are very active between the ages of 10 and 16, while brain systems governing self-control continue to mature beyond age 16. In this study, the researchers saw few changes in teens' concepts about the future after age 16.
"Those who wish to use research on adolescent decision-making to guide legal policies concerning teenagers' rights and responsibilities need to be more specific about which particular capacities are being studied—sensation seeking or self-control—since they don't all mature along the same timetable," concludes Laurence Steinberg, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at Temple University and the study's lead author.
Article: Child Development, Vol. 80, Issue 1, Age Differences in Future Orientation and Delay Discounting by Steinberg, L (Temple University), Graham, S (University of California, Los Angeles), O'Brien, LO (Temple University), Woolard, J (Georgetown University), Cauffman, E (University of California, Irvine), and Banich, M (University of Coloarado).
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Giddings: The 750 GeV Diphoton Resonance Is A Graviton
- Why Your Muscles Get Less Sore As You Stick With Your Gym Routine
- Inconvenient Truth: There Are Synthetic Pesticide Residues On Organic
- No Higgs Needed: 5 Ways Particle Accelerators Have Changed The World
- Future Transatlantic Flight Delays Blamed On Global Warming
- A.I. May Tell Us What's Going To Be Big In Science This Year
- Native Grass Make Super-Thin Condoms
- "(sarc on) Nice try! (sarc off) Typical reply from an uninformed ditto-head alarmist, that is, to..."
- " Not sure what point you are trying to make, but... No, most of the energy emitted from the Earth..."
- "Wow, a blog by a weatherman, that’s convincing. A total Gish gallop of inaccurate observations..."
- "Where can I buy a mug like the one above??..."
- "I have long suspected that the organic lobbyists have been economical with the truth in respect..."
- National Academy of Medicine Supports Replacing Faulty Mitochondrial DNA
- Pregnant & Still Smoking: Better Way Needed To Quit
- ‘Healthy Obesity’ May Be an Oxymoron, Study Says
- Keeping the PBJ, While Chasing NBA Immortality
- The Public Toilet Seat’s Place on the ‘Ick Scale’
- Moms-to-Be: Take Chocolate Benefits With Grain of Salt
- Couch potatoes may have smaller brains later in life
- Iowa State statistician organizes symposium to discuss stronger science behind forensics
- Fish fins can sense touch
- Integrating Neuroscience and Mathematics to Elucidate Mental Activities
- Research into critical national issues at forefront of NSF's FY2017 budget request