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An experimental study of adolescent behavior under peer observation: Adolescents are more impatient and inconsistent, not more risk-taking, when observed by peers

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  • Tymula, Agnieszka

Abstract

The majority of deaths in adolescence have been attributed to “risky” behaviors (Eaton et al., 2012) and therefore could be avoided had the adolescent made a different decision. In this paper, using two laboratory experiments we assess the impact of peer observation (a possible culprit of bad decision-making in adolescence) on the behavior of adolescents in risky conditions. We carefully separate risk attitudes from impatience, present bias, ambiguity attitudes, and inconsistency and in contradiction to what has been suggested in developmental psychology, we find that adolescents’ risk and ambiguity attitudes are not affected by observation. Instead, when observed by peers, adolescents become more impatient and inconsistent.

Suggested Citation

  • Tymula, Agnieszka, 2019. "An experimental study of adolescent behavior under peer observation: Adolescents are more impatient and inconsistent, not more risk-taking, when observed by peers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 735-750.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:166:y:2019:i:c:p:735-750
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2019.08.014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lex Borghans & Bart H. H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 649-658, 04-05.
    2. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, May.
    3. Matthias Sutter & Martin G. Kocher & Daniela Glätzle-Rützler & Stefan T. Trautmann, 2013. "Impatience and Uncertainty: Experimental Decisions Predict Adolescents' Field Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 510-531, February.
    4. Curley, Shawn P. & Yates, J. Frank & Abrams, Richard A., 1986. "Psychological sources of ambiguity avoidance," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 230-256, October.
    5. Daniel Ellsberg, 1961. "Risk, Ambiguity, and the Savage Axioms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 643-669.
    6. Stefan Trautmann & Ferdinand Vieider & Peter Wakker, 2008. "Causes of ambiguity aversion: Known versus unknown preferences," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 225-243, June.
    7. Lex Borghans & Bart H.H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity," Working Papers 200903, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    8. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Castillo, Marco & Jordan, Jeffrey L. & Petrie, Ragan, 2018. "Children’s rationality, risk attitudes and field behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 62-81.
    10. Tymula, Agnieszka & Whitehair, Jackson, 2018. "Young adults gamble less when observed by peers," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 1-15.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Adolescence; Decision making; Observation;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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