The Relationship between Puberty and Risk Taking in the Real World and in the Laboratory

Pers Individ Dif. 2014 Oct 1;68:143-148. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.04.019.


Adolescence is marked by the emergence and escalation of risk taking. Puberty has been long-implicated as constituting vulnerability for risk behavior during this developmental period. Sole reliance on self-reports of risk taking however poses limitations to understanding this complex relationship. There exist potential advantages of complementing self-reports by using the BART-Y laboratory task, a well-validated measure of adolescent risk taking. Toward this end, we examined the association between self-reported puberty and both self-reported and BART-Y risk taking in 231 adolescents. Results showed that pubertal status predicted risk taking using both methodologies above and beyond relevant demographic characteristics. Advantages of a multimodal assessment toward understanding the effects of puberty in adolescent risk taking are discussed and future research directions offered.