Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-vh8gq Total loading time: 0.523 Render date: 2022-09-30T09:55:42.847Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Developmental changes and individual differences in risk and perspective taking in adolescence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 October 2008

Eveline A. Crone*
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research
L. Bullens
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research
E. A. A. van der Plas
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research
E. J. Kijkuit
Leiden University Institute for Psychological Research
P. D. Zelazo
University of Minnesota
Address correspondence and reprint request to: Eveline A. Crone, Department of Psychology, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333AK Leiden, The Netherlands; E-mail:


Despite the assumed prevalence of risk-taking behavior in adolescence, the laboratory evidence of risk taking remains scarce, and the individual variation poorly understood. Drawing from neuroscience studies, we tested whether risk and reward orientation are influenced by the perspective that adolescents take when making risky decisions. Perspective taking was manipulated by cuing participants prior to each choice whether the decision was made for “self,” or from the perspective of an “other” (the experimenter in Experiment 1; a hypothetical peer in Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, we show a developmental decrease in risk-taking behavior across different stages of adolescence. In addition, all age groups made fewer risky choices for the experimenter, but the difference between self and other was larger in early adolescence. In Experiment 2, we show that high sensation-seeking (SS) adolescents make more risky choices than low SS adolescents, but both groups make a similar differentiation for other individuals (low risk-taking or high risk-taking peers). Together, the results show that younger adolescents and high SS adolescents make more risky choices for themselves, but can appreciate that others may make fewer risky choices. The developmental change toward more rational decisions versus emotional, impulsive decisions may reflect, in part, more efficient integration of others’ perspectives into one's decision making. These developmental results are discussed regarding brain systems important for risk taking and perspective taking.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


The authors thank Linda van Leijenhorst for assistance and helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and Egbert Hartstra and Kiki Zanolie for programming the experimental tasks.


Adolphs, R. (2003). Cognitive neuroscience of human social behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4, 165178.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Arnett, J. J. (1992). Reckless behavior in adolescence: A developmental perspective. Developmental Review, 12, 339373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Arnett, J. J. (1999). Adolescent storm and stress, reconsidered. American Psychologist, 54, 317326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barkeley, R. A., Edwards, G., Laneri, M., Fletcher, K., & Metevia, L. (2001). Executive functioning, temporal discounting, and sense of time in adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29, 541556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barresi, J., & Moore, C. (1996). Intentional relations and social understanding. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 19, 107154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bechara, A., Damasio, A. R., Damasio, H., & Anderson, S. W. (1994). Insensitivity to future consequences following damage to human prefrontal cortex. Cognition, 50, 715.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D., & Damasio, A. R. (1997). Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy. Science, 275, 12931295.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bechara, A., Tranel, D., Damasio, H., & Damasio, A. R. (1996). Failure to respond autonomically to anticipated future outcomes following damage to prefrontal cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 6, 215225.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bjork, J. M., Knutson, B., Fong, G. W., Caggiano, D. M., Bennett, S. M., & Hommer, D. W. (2004). Incentive-elicited brain activation in adolescents: Similarities and differences from young adults. Journal of Neuroscience, 24, 17931802.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Blakemore, S. J. (2008). Development of the social brain during adolescence. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 4049.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Blakemore, S. J., & Choudhury, S. (2006). Development of the adolescent brain: Implications for executive function and social cognition. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 47, 296312.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bosari, B., & Carey, K. B. (2001). Peer influences on college drinking: A review of the research. Journal of Substance Abuse, 13, 391424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Botvinick, M., Nystrom, L. E., Fissell, K., Carter, C. S., & Cohen, J. D. (1999). Conflict monitoring versus selection-for-action in anterior cingulate cortex. Nature, 402, 179181.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Boyer, T. W. (2006). The development of risk-taking: A multi-perspective review. Developmental Review, 26, 293345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Casey, B. J., Tottenham, N., Liston, C., & Durston, S. (2005). Imaging the developing brain: What have we learned about cognitive development? Trends in Cognitive Science, 9, 104110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Choudhury, S., Charman, T., Bird, V., & Blakemore, S. J. (2007). Development of action representation during adolescence. Neuropsychologia, 45, 255262.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cohen, M. X., Heller, A. S., & Ranganath, C. (2005). Functional connectivity with anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortices during decision-making. Cognitive Brain Research, 23, 6170.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Crone, E. A., Bunge, S. A., De Klerk, P., & Van der Molen, M. W. (2005). Cardiac concomitants of performance monitoring: Context dependence and individual differences. Cognitive Brain Research, 23, 93106.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Crone, E. A., & van der Molen, M. W. (2004). Developmental changes in real life decision making: Performance on a gambling task previously shown to depend on the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Developmental Neuropsychology, 25, 251279.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Crone, E. A., & Van der Molen, M. W. (2007). Development of decision-making in school-aged children and adolescents: Evidence from heart rate and skin conductance analysis. Child Development, 78, 12881301.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Crone, E. A., Vendel, I., & Van der Molen, M. W. (2003). Decision-making in disinhibited adolescents and adults: Insensitivity to future consequences or driven by immediate reward? Personality and Individual Differences, 35, 16251641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Erickson, M., & Jensen, G. F. (1977). Delinquency is still a group behavior! Toward revitalizing the group premise of the sociology of deviance. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 68, 262273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ernst, M., Pine, D. S., & Hardin, M. (2006). Triadic model of the neurobiology of motivated behavior in adolescence. Psychological Medicine, 36, 299312.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Eshel, N., Nelson, E. E., Blair, R. J., Pine, D. S., & Ernst, M. (2007). Neural substrates of choice selection in adults and adolescents: Development of the ventrolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices. Neuropsychologia, 45, 12701279.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Frith, C. D. (2007). The social brain? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 362, 671678.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gallagher, H. L., & Frith, C. D. (2003). Functional imaging of “theory of mind.” Trends in Cognitive Science, 7, 7783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Galvan, A., Hare, T., Voss, H., Glover, G., & Casey, B. J. (2007). Risk-taking and the adolescent brain: Who is at risk? Developmental Science, 10, F8F14.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Galvan, A., Hare, T. A., Davidson, M., Spicer, J., Glover, G., & Casey, B. J. (2005). The role of ventral frontostriatal circuitry in reward-based learning in humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 86508656.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Galvan, A., Hare, T. A., Parra, C. E., Penn, J., Voss, H., Glover, G., et al. (2006). Earlier development of the accumbens relative to orbitofrontal cortex might underlie risk-taking behavior in adolescents. Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 68856892.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gardner, M., & Steinberg, L. (2005). Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: An experimental study. Developmental Psychology, 41, 625635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gogtay, N., Giedd, J. N., Lusk, L., Hayashi, K. M., Greenstein, D., Vaituzis, A. C., et al. (2004). Dynamic mapping of human cortical development during childhood through early adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United Sates of America, 101, 81748179.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Greene, J. D., Sommerville, R. B., Nystrom, L. E., Darley, J. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science, 293, 21052108.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hooper, C. J., Luciana, M., Conklin, H. M., & Yarger, R. S. (2004). Adolescents’ performance on the iowa gambling task: Implications for the development of decision making and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Developmental Psychology, 40, 11481158.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kandel, D. B. (1996). The parental and peer contexts of adolescent deviance: An algebra of interpersonal influences. Journal of Drug Issues, 26, 289316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Krain, A. L., Hefton, S., Pine, D. S., Ernst, M., Xavier Castellanos, F., Klein, R. G., et al. (2006). An fMRI examination of developmental differences in the neural correlates of uncertainty and decision-making. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 47, 10231030.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lejuez, C. W., Aklin, W. M., Zvolensky, M. J., & Pedulla, C. M. (2003). Evaluation of the balloon analogie risk task (BART) as a predictor of adolescent real-world risk-taking behavior. Journal of Adolescence, 26, 475479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McCabe, K., Houser, D., Ryan, L., Smith, V., & Trouard, T. (2001). A functional imaging study of cooperation in two-person reciprocal exchange. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98, 1183211835.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244, 933938.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nelson, E. E., Leibenluft, E., McClure, E. B., & Pine, D. S. (2005). The social re-orientation of adolescence: A neuroscience perspective on the process and its relation to psychopathology. Psychological Medicine, 35, 163174.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ochsner, K. N., Knierim, K., Ludlow, D. H., Hanelin, J., Ramachandran, T., Glower, G., et al. (2004). Reflecting upon feelings: An fMRI study of neural systems supporting the attribution of emotion to self and other. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16, 17461772.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Olesen, P. J., Macoveanu, J., Tegner, J., & Klingberg, T. (2007). Brain activity related to working memory and distraction in children and adults. Cerebral Cortex 17, 10471054.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Overman, W. H. (2004). Sex differences in early childhood, adolescence, and adulthood on cognitive tasks that rely on orbital prefrontal cortex. Brain and Cognition, 55, 134147.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Overman, W. H., Frassrand, K., Ansel, S., Trawalter, S., Bies, B., & Redmond, A. (2004). Performance on the Iowa card task by adolescents and adults. Neuropsychologia, 42, 18381851.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Prencipe, A., & Zelazo, P. D. (2005). Development of affective decision-making for self and other. Psychological Science, 16, 501505.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Repacholi, B. M., & Gopnik, A. (1997). Early reasoning about desires: Evidence from 14- and 18-month-olds. Developmental Psychology, 33, 1221.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rilling, J. K., Guttman, D. A., Zeh, T. R., Pagnoni, G., Berns, G. S., & Kilts, C. D. (2002). A neural basis for social cooperation. Neuron, 35, 395405.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Scheres, A., Dijkstra, M., Ainslie, E., Balkan, J., Reynolds, B., Sonuga-Barke, E., et al. (2006). Temporal and probabilistic discounting of rewards in children and adolescents: Effects of age and ADHD symptoms. Neuropsychologia, 44, 20922103.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sowell, E. R., Thompson, P. M., Leonard, C. M., Welcome, S. E., Kan, E., & Toga, A. W. (2004). Longitudinal mapping of cortical thickness and brain growth in normal children. Journal of Neuroscience, 24, 82238231.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Steinberg, L. (2004). Risk taking in adolescence: What changes and why? Annuals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 5158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steinberg, L. (2005). Cognitive and affective development in adolescence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 6974.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Leijenhorst, L., Crone, E. A., & Bunge, S. A. (2006). Neural correlates of developmental differences in risk estimation and feedback processing. Neuropsychologia, 44, 21582170.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Leijenhorst, L., Westenberg, P. M., & Crone, E. A. (2008). A developmental study of risky decisions on the cake gambling task: Age and gender analyses of probability estimation and reward evaluation. Developmental Neuropsychology, 33, 179196.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Vinokur, A. (1971). Review and theoretical analysis of the effects of group processes upon individual and group decisions involving risk. Psychological Bulletin, 76, 231250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Westenberg, P. M., Hauser, S. T., & Cohn, L. D. (2004). Sentence completion measurement of psychosocial maturity (Vol. 2). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
Zuckerman, M., Eysenck, S., & Eysenck, H. J. (1978). Sensation seeking in England and America: Cross-cultural, age, and sex comparisons. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 139149.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Developmental changes and individual differences in risk and perspective taking in adolescence
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Developmental changes and individual differences in risk and perspective taking in adolescence
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Developmental changes and individual differences in risk and perspective taking in adolescence
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *