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NCRG-funded Study Questions Conventional Wisdom about Youth

by: NCRG Staff | Sep 11, 2015

Teenagers are known for making risky decisions. But does research support this assumption? A new study from Duke University, funded in part by the NCRG, found that adolescents aged 10 to 16 can be more analytical in their economic choices than many slightly older adults. Published in the October-December issue of the journal, Cognitive Development, the study suggests that  not only should we give teenagers more credit for rationality but also that parents should help children hone their cost-benefit analysis skills in making real-life decisions (Youngbin, Payne, Cohen, & Huettel, 2015). One of the authors, Scott Huettel, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke, explained that while not as irrational as usually characterized, adolescents don’t use the simple rules of decision-making as effectively as adults. For example, young adults are more sensitive to positive outcomes than adults. This accounts for the many risky behaviors observed in this age group, including gambling.

What are the implications of this research for preventing youth gambling? Join us at the NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addiction, Sept. 27-29, 2015, where Dr. Huettel will discuss this research. There’s still time to register! Click here for online registration.


Youngbin, K., Payne, J. W., Cohen, A. L., & Huettel, S. (2015). The rational adolescent: Strategic information processing during decision making revealed by eye tracking. Cognitive Development, 36, 20–30.

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