Dealing With Uncertainty: Testing Risk- and Ambiguity-Attitude Across Adolescence

Dev Neuropsychol. Jan-Mar 2016;41(1-2):77-92. doi: 10.1080/87565641.2016.1158265. Epub 2016 Mar 30.


Attitudes to risk (known probabilities) and attitudes to ambiguity (unknown probabilities) are separate constructs that influence decision making, but their development across adolescence remains elusive. We administered a choice task to a wide adolescent age-range (N = 157, 10-25 years) to disentangle risk- and ambiguity-attitudes using a model-based approach. Additionally, this task was played in a social context, presenting choices from a high risk-taking peer. We observed age-related changes in ambiguity-attitude, but not risk-attitude. Also, ambiguity-aversion was negatively related to real-life risk taking. Finally, the social context influenced only risk-attitudes. These results highlight the importance of disentangling risk- and ambiguity-attitudes in adolescent risk taking.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Uncertainty*
  • Young Adult