Many factors contribute to adolescents' decision-making autonomy

March 25, 2010

Decision making within families is an important way for young people to gain independence and responsibility, and adolescence is a time of increasing autonomy. A longitudinal study by Penn State researchers in the College of Health and Human Development concludes that teens have more say in certain areas than in others, and that some teens have more autonomy than others.

Over a span of nine years, the researchers annually canvassed parents in about 200 White, European-American families about their teens' decision making. Mothers and fathers reported on who made decisions in eight areas of their children's lives: chores, appearance, curfew and bedtime, health, schoolwork, social life, activities and money.

The study found that young people's input into decisions increased gradually from ages 9 to 14, and then surged from ages 15 to 20. Also, young people had more input into decisions about appearance, activities, schoolwork and social life than about chores, health and curfews. In late adolescence, ages 18 to 20, decisions about money and health were still being made jointly by parents and adolescents, suggesting that autonomy developed more gradually for these types of decisions.

The study also found that certain children had more decision-making autonomy than others. Those with more autonomy included girls, young people whom their parents said were easy to supervise and children with better-educated parents.

The researchers -- Laura Wray-Lake, a predoctoral fellow in human development and family studies, Ann Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development, and Susan McHale, professor of human development -- published their findings in the March-April issue of the journal Child Development.

According to Wray-Lake, there wasn't a single, universal pattern in the development of decision making. Instead, decision-making autonomy, a reflection of the development of youths' independence and responsibility, depended on what kinds of decisions youngsters faced, and on their personal and family circumstances.
-end-
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded part of the study.

Penn State

Related Decision Making Articles from Brightsurf:

Knowing the model you can trust - the key to better decision-making
As much of Europe is engulfed by a second wave of Covid-19, and track and trace struggles to meet demand, modelling support tools are being increasingly used by policymakers to make key decisions.

Happy endings trip up the brain's decision-making
The brain keeps track of the value of an experience as well as how it unfolds over time; overemphasizing the ending may trigger poor decision-making, according to new research published in JNeurosci.

Automatic decision-making prevents us harming others - new study
The processes our brains use to avoid harming other people are automatic and reflexive - and quite different from those used when avoiding harm to ourselves, according to new research.

Mapping the decision-making pathways in the brain
Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have identified a new area of the brain that could be involved in cost-benefit decision-making.

How the brain's internal states affect decision-making
By recording the activity of separate populations of neurons simultaneously, researchers have gained an unprecedented insight into how the 'waxing and waning' of our mental state influences the decisions we make.

Motherhood overrides the brain's decision-making
Motherhood takes over the brain's decision-making regions to prioritize caring for offspring, according to new research in rats published in eNeuro.

Get it over with, or procrastinate? New research explores our decision-making process
New research from the UBC Sauder School of Business may have figured out why.

Illuminating interactions between decision-making and the environment
Employing a game theory model, University of Pennsylvania researchers demonstrate how strategic decisions influence the environment in which those decisions are made, alterations which in turn influence strategy.

Lung cancer screening decision aid delivered through tobacco quitlines improves informed decision-making
Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have shown that a decision aid delivered through tobacco quitlines effectively reaches a screening-eligible population and results in informed decisions about lung cancer screening.

A molecular map of the brain's decision-making area
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have come one step closer toward understanding how the part of our brain that is central for decision-making and the development of addiction is organized on a molecular level.

Read More: Decision Making News and Decision Making Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.