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Risk Taking in Adolescents

 Elke Weber

Adolescents are well known to take high risks which can lead to serious repercussions such as traffic accidents or to a history of substance abuse later on in life. We are investigating risky decision making and underlying information use, focusing on the transitions from childhood to adolescence and adolescence to adulthood, to better understand the causes of adolescents' risk taking tendencies. We use our Columbia Card Task (CCT) to investigate risky decisions under differential involvement of affective versus deliberative processes as well as the influence of situational characteristics on triggering more impulsive versus more controlled risky decisions. Additional measures such as inhibitory control, need-for-arousal, executive functioning, and impulsivity are used to further explain individual as well as age and gender differences. Besides behavioral measures, we implement physiological measures (cardiovascular and electrodermal activity) and brain imaging techniques.