A decision-making perspective is used to review and analyze the literature on risk taking in adolescence. The advantages of such an approach are demonstrated, and then it is applied to some widely held beliefs regarding adolescents' risky behaviors. The implications of this perspective for education are briefly discussed, along with the need for a developmental theory of decision making. A large number of studies related to adolescent risk taking are reviewed, showing whether and how each addresses issues defined by a decision-making perspective. Alternative views of risk taking are also examined. In conclusion, we discuss the possible validity of the claim that adolescents are undue risk takers.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This article has benefited from very helpful suggestions from Baruch Fischhoff and Diana Baumrind. Preparation of the manuscript was supported by the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development. Reprint requests should be addressed to Lita Furby, Eugene Research Institute, 1400 High Street, Suite C, Eugene, OR 97401.