The Effect of Peer Presence on Risk Taking Behavior Among Late Adolescents
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The present study used an experimental method to examine risk-taking in a simulated environment involving risky driving behaviors. The study examined the effects of peer presence on risk-taking behavior among late adolescents and explored a potential mechanism of said effect, emotional arousal. Given the salience of peers in the social context of adolescents’ lives, it is not surprising that peer influences are a common lens through which risk-taking behaviors are investigated. Research from experimentally based paradigms suggests that peers influence adolescents’ risk-taking in multiple ways. However, methodological inconsistencies across the reviewed studies suggest that there continue to be unanswered questions about the circumstances under which peers influence adolescent outcomes and the mechanism of this influence. The study tested two hypotheses: H1: The mere presence of peers will increase risk taking behavior, and H2: The effect of peer presence on adolescent risk taking is mediated by increased emotional arousal. In summary, the current study provides evidence that the effect of peer presence on adolescent risk-taking may function in such a way that overt encouragement of risk-taking from the peer is needed in order to see an increase in adolescent risk-taking. This study did not find support for the idea that mere presence of peers is enough to increase adolescent risk-taking. In terms of broad implications of the current findings, they provide some encouraging evidence of adolescents’ ability to withstand peer influence. This means that heightened peer interactions do not always equate to an increased proclivity towards risk-taking. In the absence of overt encouragement, adolescents seem to rely more on their own evaluation of risky scenarios, which is encouraging news in terms of real-world health risk behaviors.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature review -- Method -- Results -- Discussion
M.A. (Master of Arts)