Science confirms what we’ve suspected all along

| June 2, 2007

Teenagers don’t think:

Her analysis included research she conducted with ISU colleagues on more than 10,000 youths from across the country regarding such things as smoking, use of alcohol and/or drugs, or practicing unsafe sex. She’s found that one of the biggest reasons teens are so hard to figure out is because there is an impulsive element to their behavior.

“There’s actually been a series of studies we’ve done over the last 10 or 12 years designed specifically to ask questions about what’s going through their heads, or what’s not going through their heads as they’re making these decisions,” she said. “And what’s not going through their heads is a big part of the story.

“What’s novel about this research is that we’ve demonstrated that quite a bit of adolescent decision-making is not reasoned on — on any level,” she said. “It’s not because it’s motivated behavior, or they’ve thought about how much they want to do it. It’s because they just do it.”…

According to Gerrard, prior research on adolescent risk-taking behavior has treated teens like adults and assumed that they make reasoned decisions that lead to intentions to engage in specific behaviors. But she’s found that their decisions are often not planned or even premeditated. Instead, they’re reactive to “risk-conducive” circumstances that usually involve friends and peers.

“Parents ask kids, ‘What were you thinking?’ and they say, ‘I don’t know.’ And they really don’t know what they were thinking,” she said.

As someone who spent 20 years raising teenagers, I find that this rings very, very true. ..bruce..

[UPDATE: 06/03/07 – 1234 MDT]

I showed this posting to my sweet angel Sandra, who read this line from the quote above:

Instead, they’re reactive to “risk-conducive” circumstances that usually involve friends and peers.

and then reminded me of her equation for how to calculate the collective IQ of a group of teenagers: take the lowest individual IQ in the group and divide it by the total number of teenagers in the group.  ..bruce..

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Category: Humor, Main, Personal, Science

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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