Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: an experimental study

Dev Psychol. 2005 Jul;41(4):625-35. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.41.4.625.


In this study, 306 individuals in 3 age groups--adolescents (13-16), youths (18-22), and adults (24 and older)--completed 2 questionnaire measures assessing risk preference and risky decision making, and 1 behavioral task measuring risk taking. Participants in each age group were randomly assigned to complete the measures either alone or with 2 same-aged peers. Analyses indicated that (a) risk taking and risky decision making decreased with age; (b) participants took more risks, focused more on the benefits than the costs of risky behavior, and made riskier decisions when in peer groups than alone; and (c) peer effects on risk taking and risky decision making were stronger among adolescents and youths than adults. These findings support the idea that adolescents are more inclined toward risky behavior and risky decision making than are adults and that peer influence plays an important role in explaining risky behavior during adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Choice Behavior
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Facilitation*