Relationship between Adolescent Risk Preferences on a Laboratory Task and Behavioral Measures of Risk-taking

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Article discussing research on the relationship between adolescent risk preferences on a laboratory task and behavioral measures of risk-taking.

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15 p.

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Rao, Uma; Sidhartha, Tanuj; Harker, Karen; Bidesi, Anup S.; Chen, Li-Ann & Ernst, Monique, 1953- February 2011.

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Article discussing research on the relationship between adolescent risk preferences on a laboratory task and behavioral measures of risk-taking.

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15 p.

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Abstract: Purpose: The goal of the study was to assess individual differences in risk-taking behavior among adolescents in the laboratory. A second aim was to evaluate whether the laboratory-based risk-taking behavior is associated with other behavioral and psychological measures associated with risk-taking behavior. Methods: Eighty-two adolescents with no personal history of psychiatric disorder completed a computerized decision-making task, the Wheel of Fortune (WOF). By offering choices between clearly defined probabilities and real monetary outcomes, this task assesses risk preferences when participants are confronted with potential rewards and losses. The participants also completed a variety of behavioral and psychological measures associated with risk-taking behavior. Results: Performance on the task varied based on the probability and anticipated outcomes. In the winning sub-task, participants selected low probability-high magnitude reward (high-risk choice) less frequently than high probability-low magnitude reward (low-risk choice). In the losing sub-task, participants selected low probability-high magnitude loss more often than high probability-low magnitude loss. On average, the selection of probabilistic rewards was optimal and similar to performance in adults. There were, however, individual differences in performance, and one-third of the adolescents made high-risk choice more frequently than low-risk choice while selecting a reward. After controlling for sociodemographic and psychological variable, high-risk choice on the winning task predicted "real-world" risk-taking behavior and substance-related problems. Conclusions: These findings highlight individual differences in risk-taking behavior. Preliminary data on face validity of the WOF task suggest that it might be a valuable laboratory tool for studying behavioral and neurobiological processes associated with risk-taking behavior in adolescents.

This is the accepted manuscript version of the article. Reprinted with permission from Elsevier Science Ltd., all rights reserved. The final definitive version is available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1054139X10002788

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  • Journal of Adolescent Health, 2011, New York: Elsevier Science Ltd., pp. 151-158

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  • Publication Title: Journal of Adolescent Health
  • Volume: 48
  • Issue: 2
  • Page Start: 151
  • Page End: 158
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes

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Materials from the UNT community's research, creative, and scholarly activities and UNT's Open Access Repository. Access to some items in this collection may be restricted.

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  • February 2011

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  • Sept. 6, 2013, 3:22 p.m.

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  • April 1, 2015, 3:55 p.m.

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Rao, Uma; Sidhartha, Tanuj; Harker, Karen; Bidesi, Anup S.; Chen, Li-Ann & Ernst, Monique, 1953-. Relationship between Adolescent Risk Preferences on a Laboratory Task and Behavioral Measures of Risk-taking, article, February 2011; [New York, New York]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc180965/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .