Adolescent risk appetite: mindFly


Ask an adolescent” How likely are you to have a car accident if you are driving while drunk?” the answer would be ” One chance in a Gazillion”. The risk is about 50% as per researchers. Adolescents have two to four times the rate of pathological gambling as compared to adults.

Risk assessment

During risky decision making, adolescents activate the prefrontal cortex(PFC) less than adults do. The less the activity, the poorer is the risk assessment. There is also an age difference in the sensations sought- adolescents are tempted to bungee jumping whereas adults are tempted to cheat on their low salt/sugar diet. The adolescent is characterized not only by more risking but by more novelty as well.

Role of Dopamine

The release of hormone Dopamine (the feel-good hormone) is much stronger in anticipation of activity for adolescents. This combined with the PFC increases the risk appetite. The anticipated dopamine rush is higher in children and adolescents for even small activities and it decreases with age. Adults required a heightened activity to release the dopamine which is the feel-good hormone.

Peers, social acceptance & exclusion

Adolescent vulnerability to peer pressure from friends, especially peers they want to accept as friends, is storied. In study adolescents and adults took risks at the same rate in a video game. Adding peers to egg them had no effect on adults but tripled risk-taking in adolescents. Adolescents are more sociable. Data reveals that adolescents on an average in 2013 had 400 more facebook friends as compared to adults.

Moral reasoning

The adolescents mature with age and they are able to distinguish between intentional and accidental harm, viewing the former as worse. When contemplating the latter, there is less activation of the three brain regions associated with pain processing. The adolescent violence is not related to the testosterone because it peaks during early adolescence. The delayed development of the prefrontal cortex maturation cycle is the reason for the conflict within. The same is reflected in the activities of adolescents and is assumed as a chemical imbalance in the body.

A number of industries have fixed a minimum age before the process of upgrading to a more responsible role is assumed. There is no scientific logic that they use but the role of PFC does correlate with maturity and risk appetite. the selection system must ensure that the transition from adolescence to adult has taken place.



About Capt. Amit Singh

I think therefore I am Airlines Operations and Safety balance expert. A former head of operations/training and safety of successful LCC's in India. An experienced member of the startup teams of these airlines has hands-on experience in establishing airlines systems and processes.

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