Young teens’ perception of risk influenced by peers, adults: study

London – An adolescent’s individual perception of risk can be shaped by the views of other teens, University College London researchers claim in a new study.

More than 550 visitors to the London Science Museum were asked to rate the riskiness of everyday situations such as crossing the street against a red light. The respondents were then asked to re-rate those situations after being told other people’s ratings. The risk level ratings from the other people, grouped by age, were randomly generated.

Researchers found that most age groups adjusted their own rating to conform to the ratings of adults. However, young adolescents (12-14 years old) were more likely to change their rating to match teens’ ratings. Additionally, young adolescents’ initially rated situations as higher risk than other, older age groups.

“Our findings suggest that the target of public health interventions should be adolescent social norms, rather than simply focusing on the potential health risks associated with certain situations and choices,” lead study author and UCL researcher Lisa Knoll said in a press release.

The study was published online in March in the journal Psychological Science.