Do Young Adults Understand Risk?

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I'm particularly interested in perhaps this because my children are at this age, sort of 18-25 year olds. I think it's a very interesting age group that I've never really studied until the past 5 or 10 years. And it's an age group that I think we have all sort of myths about as adults.

So, here's one for instance. We think about there's an entire scientific literature about sort of risky behaviors. What scientist write all the time about risky behaviors and when you actually talk to an 18-25 year old about risky behaviors, they don't know what you're talking about.

They don't use that term at all. They don't speak in terms of risky things. Now it's not because they don't understand risk. To me this is one of the misapprehensions of 18-25 year olds. They understand risk as well as you do. It's not as if their brains aren't developed and you hear that adulteress brains aren't simply developed.

They're developed, they understand this risks well enough, what they talk about or thing like experimentation. They use different word for it and they therefore put different valencies on some of these behaviors. And they consider these things completely rational and they're just experiments.

They're experiments that they don't know the results of on themselves, and they're going to pull back from and they're going to move toward. And so how do we come to understand that sort of behavior? That's what I'm studying at the moment. So I'll tell you about when I'm my study's just to Princeton.

So here is a study where I've actually imported a theory from Sociology that's called Emerging Adulthood. And it says that in this culture, we have a period of time from 18-29 or so, where people, kids, young adults, emerging adults develop in certain thematic ways that didn't exist generations ago.

That the timing of marriage, that the timing of financial independence, that the timing of getting jobs, that the timing of moving out of your parent's house is very different than it was at the beginning of the 20th century. And so there's this extended period of where people are influx.

Going back to what I was saying earlier, what I believe is that if you can help people, that age-group who are doing risky things, what I would consider risky things what they would consider experimental things. Understand what risk actually might mean in the areas of their values.

Right? In terms of can I buy a car, can I get out of my parents' house, etc. And how they're drinking, drugging etc, relates to that. You can help free them up. It's for them an identification of sort of future values during a period of flux. So that's what I'm doing these days. I'm trying to see if we can work with kids before they get into serious drug or alcohol problems.

To identify future values and show them, walk with them through how some of those values are affected by their behaviors.