21-07-2022 | Empirical Research
Risk-Taking Behavior Among Male Adolescents: The Role of Observer Presence and Individual Self-Control
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Youth and Adolescence | Uitgave 11/2022Log in om toegang te krijgen
A number of studies have focused on the same-sex peer effect on and the developmental difference in adolescent risk-taking in terms of the dual systems model. Little research, however, addresses the effects of different observers, the role of different levels of individual self-control, and their interactions. To fill this gap, the present study examined the main and interactive effects of observer presence and individual self-control on male adolescents’ risk-taking behavior with an experimental design. A total of 261 male adolescents (Mage = 15.79 ± 0.79, range = 14–18) completed an adapted Stoplight Task, which measures risk-taking behavior, in the presence of an observer, either peer or adult, either male or female. The results indicated that a same-sex peer’s presence and low self-control were both risk factors of male adolescents’ risk-taking, but did only low self-control male adolescents take serious risks when in the presence of a same-sex peer whereas those with high self-control consistently had low levels of risk-taking under any condition. An opposite-sex observer, particularly an opposite-sex adult’s presence, played a similar protective role for male adolescents with low self-control. The findings suggest that a high level of self-control closely related to the cognitive control system may significantly buffer the negative effect of an adverse social stimulus which activates the social-emotional system on male adolescents’ risk-taking; the findings also reveal that an opposite-sex adult’s presence may contribute to a decrease in male adolescents’ risk-taking by improving their cognitive control system.