Risk taking by adolescents with maladaptive behavior histories

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2001 Feb;9(1):74-82. doi: 10.1037/1064-1297.9.1.74.


"High-risk" adolescents with maladaptive behavior histories and control adolescents (15-17 years of age) participated in a laboratory experiment that measured aspects of risk-taking behavior. High-risk adolescents had behavioral profiles entailing combinations of past substance use disorder, early onset substance use, conduct disorder, criminal history, and dropping out of school. A risk-taking task presented participants with "risky" and nonrisky response options. The risky response option offered a low probability of a large monetary reward or a high probability of a smaller monetary loss and resulted in a net loss of monetary earnings. The nonrisky option protected current earnings. High-risk adolescents chose the risky option more often, had lower overall earnings, and were more likely to persist in making (losing) risky responses following a single gain on the risky option. The data replicate previous findings with high-risk adults.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk-Taking*