Decision-making and risk-taking behavior undergo developmental changes during adolescence. Disadvantageous decision-making and increased risk-taking may lead to problematic behaviors such as substance use and abuse, pathological gambling and excessive internet use.
Based on MEDLINE searches, this article reviews the literature on decision-making and risk-taking and their relationships to addiction vulnerability in youth.
Decision-making and risk-taking behaviors involve brain areas that undergo developmental changes during puberty and young adulthood. Individual differences and peer pressure also relate importantly to decision-making and risk-taking.
Brain-based changes in emotional, motivational and cognitive processing may underlie risk-taking and decision-making propensities in adolescence, making this period a time of heightened vulnerability for engagement in addictive behaviors.
W. M. Aklin C. W. Lejuez M. J. Zvolensky C. W. Kahler M. Gwadz 2005 Evaluation of behavioral measures of risk taking propensity with inner city adolescents Behaviour Research & Therapy 43 2 215 228.
A. Bechara 2003 Risky business: Emotion, decision-making, and addiction Journal of Gambling Studies 19 1 23 51.
A. Bechara H. Damasio 2002 Decision-making and addiction (part I): Impaired activation of somatic states in substance dependent individuals when pondering decisions with negative future consequences Neuropsychologia 40 10 1675 1689.
A. Bechara S. Dolan N. Denburg A. Hindes S. W. Anderson P. E. Nathan 2001 Decision-making deficits, linked to a dysfunctional ventromedial prefrontal cortex, revealed in alcohol and stimulant abusers Neuropsychologia 39 4 376 389.
G. S. Berns S. Moore C. M. Capra 2009 Adolescent engagement in dangerous behaviors is associated with increased white matter maturity of frontal cortex PLoS ONE 4 8 e6773.
J. Billieux P. Gay L. Rochat M. Van der Linden 2010 The role of urgency and its underlying psychological mechanisms in problematic behaviours Behaviour Research & Therapy 48 11 1085 1096.
C. Brezing J. L. Derevensky M. N. Potenza 2010 Non-substance-addictive behaviors in youth: Pathological gambling and problematic Internet use Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 19 3 625 641.
F. Cao L. Su T. Liu X. Gao 2007 The relationship between impulsivity and Internet addiction in a sample of Chinese adolescents European Psychiatry: the Journal of the Association of European Psychiatrists 22 7 466 471.
B. J. Casey S. Getz A. Galvan 2008 The adolescent brain Developmental Review 28 1 62 77.
B. J. Casey L. H. Somerville I. H. Gotlib O. Ayduk N. T. Franklin M. K. Askren J. Jonides M. G. Berman N. L. Wilson T. Teslovich G. Glover V. Zayas W. Mischel Y. Shoda 2011 Behavioral and neural correlates of delay of gratification 40 years later Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 36 14998 15003.
Cavalca, E., Kong, G., Liss, T., Reynolds, E. K., Schepis, T. S., Lejuez, C. W. & Krishnan-Sarin, S. (2012). A preliminary experimental investigation of peer influence on risk-taking among adolescent smokers and non-smokers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. doi: .
R. A. Chambers M. N. Potenza 2003 Neurodevelopment, impulsivity, and adolescent gambling Journal of Gambling Studies 19 1 53 84.
R. A. Chambers J. R. Taylor M. N. Potenza 2003 Developmental neurocircuitry of motivation in adolescence: A critical period of addiction vulnerability American Journal of Psychiatry 160 6 1041 1052.
E. Cheung J. A. Mikels 2011 I'm feeling lucky: The relationship between affect and risk-seeking in the framing effect Emotion 11 4 852 859.
L. Clark 2010 Decision-making during gambling: An integration of cognitive and psychobiological approaches Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365 319 330.
L. Clark T. W. Robbins K. D. Ersche B. J. Sahakian 2006 Reflection impulsivity in current and former substance users Biological Psychiatry 60 5 515 522.
L. Clark P. R. Stokes K. Wit R. Michalczuk A. Benecke B. J. Watson A. Egerton P. Piccini D. J. Nutt H. Bowden-Jones A. R. Lingford-Hughes 2012 Striatal dopamine D2/D3 receptor binding in pathological gambling is correlated with mood-related impulsivity Neuroimage 63 1 40 46.
E. A. Crone M. W. van der Molen 2007 Development of decision making in school-aged children and adolescents: Evidence from heart rate and skin conductance analysis Child Development 78 4 1288 1301.
J. Deakin M. Aitken T. Robbins B. J. Sahakian 2004 Risk taking during decision-making in normal volunteers changes with age Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 10 4 590 598.
O. Desrichard V. Denarie 2005 Sensation seeking and negative affectivity as predictors of risky behaviors: A distinction between occasional versus frequent risk-taking Addictive Behaviors 30 7 1449 1453.
E. E. DeVito A. D. Blackwell L. Clark L. Kent A. M. Dezsery D. C. Turner M. R. F. Aitken B. J. Sahakian 2009 Methylphenidate improves response inhibition but not reflection-impulsivity in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Psychopharmacology 202 1–3 531 539.
F. Dussault M. Brendgen F. Vitaro B. Wanner R. E. Tremblay 2011 Longitudinal links between impulsivity, gambling problems and depressive symptoms: A transactional model from adolescence to early adulthood Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry & Allied Disciplines 52 2 130 138.
B. Figner R. J. Mackinlay F. Wilkening E. U. Weber 2009 Affective and deliberative processes in risky choice: Age differences in risk taking in the Columbia Card Task Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition 35 3 709 730.
T. W. Fong R. C. Reid I. Parhami 2012 Behavioral addictions: Where to draw the lines? Psychiatric Clinics of North America 35 2 279 296.
E. E. Fortune A. S. Goodie 2010 The relationship between pathological gambling and sensation seeking: The role of subscale scores Journal of Gambling Studies 26 3 331 346.
A. Galvan T. Hare H. Voss G. Glover B. J. Casey 2007 Risk-taking and the adolescent brain: Who is at risk? Developmental Science 10 2 F8 F14.
J. E. Grant M. N. Potenza A. Weinstein D. A. Gorelick 2010 Introduction to behavioral addictions American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse 36 5 233 241.
K. Greene M. Krcmar L. H. Walters D. L. Rubin J. L. Hale 2000 Targeting adolescent risk-taking behaviors: The contributions of egocentrism and sensation-seeking Journal of Adolescence 23 4 439 461.
C. J. Hooper M. Luciana H. M. Conklin R. S. Yarger 2004 Adolescents' performance on the Iowa Gambling Task: Implications for the development of decision making and ventromedial prefrontal cortex Developmental Psychology 40 6 1148 1158.
R. Jessor 1998 New perspectives on adolescent risk behavior Cambridge University Press New York.
R. Jessor J. E. Donovan F. Costa 1991 Beyond adolescence: Problem behavior and young adult development Cambridge University Press New York.
R. Jessor S. L. Jessor 1997 Problem behavior and psychosocial development: A longitudinal study of youth Academic Press New York.
M. Kano M. Ito S. Fukudo 2011 Neural substrates of decision making as measured with the Iowa Gambling Task in men with alexithymia Psychosomatic Medicine 73 7 588 597.
R. Karim P. Chaudhri 2012 Behavioral addictions: An overview Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 44 1 5 17.
A. E. Kelley T. Schochet C. F. Landry 2004 Risk taking and novelty seeking in adolescence: Introduction to part I Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1021 27 32.
C. H. Ko S. Hsiao G. C. Liu J. Y. Yen M. J. Yang C. F. Yen 2010 The characteristics of decision making, potential to take risks, and personality of college students with Internet addiction Psychiatry Research 175 1–2 121 125.
M. J. Kreek D. A. Nielsen E. R. Butelman K. S. LaForge 2005 Genetic influences on impulsivity, risk taking, stress responsivity and vulnerability to drug abuse and addiction Nature Neuroscience 8 11 1450 1457.
C. E. Lakey A. S. Goodie W. K. Campbell 2007 Frequent card playing and pathological gambling: The utility of the Georgia Gambling Task and Iowa Gambling Task for predicting pathology Journal of Gambling Studies 23 3 285 297.
A. J. Lawrence J. Luty N. A. Bogdan B. J. Sahakian L. Clark 2009 Problem gamblers share deficits in impulsive decision-making with alcohol-dependent individuals Addiction 104 6 1006 1015.
H. W. Lee J. S. Choi Y. C. Shin J. Y. Lee H. Y. Jung J. S. Kwon 2012 Impulsivity in internet addiction: A comparison with pathological gambling Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking 15 7 373 377.
R. F. Leeman M. N. Potenza 2012 Similarities and differences between pathological gambling and substance use disorders: A focus on impulsivity and compulsivity Psychopharmacology 219 2 469 490.
C. W. Lejuez W. Aklin S. Daughters M. Zvolensky C. Kahler M. Gwadz 2007 Reliability and validity of the youth version of the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART-Y) in the assessment of risk-taking behavior among inner-city adolescents Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology 36 1 106 111.
C. W. Lejuez J. P. Read C. W. Kahler J. B. Richards S. E. Ramsey G. L. Stuart D. R. Strong R. A. Brown 2002 Evaluation of a behavioral measure of risk taking: the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) Journal of Experimental Psychology. Applied 8 2 75 84.
J. Linnet A. Møller E. Peterson A. Gjedde D. Doudet 2011 Dopamine release in ventral striatum during Iowa Gambling Task performance is associated with increased excitement levels in pathological gambling Addiction 106 2 383 390.
J. Linnet E. Peterson D. Doudet A. Gjedde A. Møller 2010 Dopamine release in ventral striatum of pathological gamblers losing money Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 122 4 326 333.
L. MacPherson J. F. Magidson E. K. Reynolds C. W. Kahler C. W. Lejuez 2010 Changes in sensation seeking and risk-taking propensity predict increases in alcohol use among early adolescents Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 34 8 1400 1408.
R. Michalczuk H. Bowden-Jones A. Verdejo-Garcia L. Clark 2011 Impulsivity and cognitive distortions in pathological gamblers attending the UK National Problem Gambling Clinic: A preliminary report Psychological Medicine 41 12 2625 2635.
W. Mischel Y. Shoda M. I. Rodriguez 1989 Delay of gratification in children Science 244 4907 933 938.
N. A. Nasrallah J. J. Clark A. L. Collins C. A. Akers P. E. Phillips I. L. Bernstein 2011 Risk preference following adolescent alcohol use is associated with corrupted encoding of costs but not rewards by mesolimbic dopamine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 13 5466 5471.
A. Oldershaw E. Grima F. Jollant C. Richards M. Simic L. Taylor U. Schmidt 2009 Decision making and problem solving in adolescents who deliberately self-harm Psychological Medicine 39 1 95 104.
M. Pawlikowski M. Brand 2011 Excessive Internet gaming and decision making: Do excessive World of Warcraft players have problems in decision making under risky conditions? Psychiatry Research 188 3 428 433.
N. M. Petry 2001 Pathological gamblers, with and without substance use disorders, discount delayed rewards at high rates Journal of Abnormal Psychology 110 3 482 487.
N. M. Petry 2006 Should the scope of addictive behaviors be broadened to include pathological gambling? Addiction 101 Suppl1 152 160.
M. L. Platt S. A. Huettel 2008 Risky business: The neuroeconomics of decision making under uncertainty Nature Neuroscience 11 4 398 403.
T. J. Pleskac 2008 Decision making and learning while taking sequential risks Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition 34 1 167 185.
M. N. Potenza 2006 Should addictive disorders include non-substance-related conditions? Addiction 101 Suppl1 142 151.
H. Rao M. Korczykowski J. Pluta A. Hoang J. A. Detre 2008 Neural correlates of voluntary and involuntary risk taking in the human brain: An fMRI Study of the Balloon Analog Risk Task (BART) Neuroimage 42 2 902 910.
H. Rao E. Mamikonyan J. A. Detre A. D. Siderowf M. B. Stern M. N. Potenza D. Weintraub 2010 Decreased ventral striatal activity with impulse control disorders in Parkinson's disease Movement Disorders 25 11 1660 1669.
V. F. Reyna S. M. Estrada J. A. DeMarinis R. M. Myers J. M. Stanisz B. A. Mills 2011 Neurobiological and memory models of risky decision making in adolescents versus young adults Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition 37 5 1125 1142.
R. D. Rogers A. M. Owen H. C. Middleton E. J. Williams J. D. Pickard B. J. Sahakian T. W. Robbins 1999 Choosing between small, likely rewards and large, unlikely rewards activates inferior and orbital prefrontal cortex Journal of Neuroscience 19 20 9029 9038.
H. J. Rutherford L. C. Mayes M. N. Potenza 2010 Neurobiology of adolescent substance use disorders: Implications for prevention and treatment Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America 19 3 479 492.
T. R. Schlam N. L. Wilson Y. Shoda W. Mischel O. Ayduk 2013 Preschoolers' delay of gratification predicts their body mass 30 years later Journal of Pediatrics 162 1 90 93.
S. Schneider J. Peters U. Bromberg S. Brassen S. F. Miedl T. Banaschewski G. J. Barker P. Conrod H. Flor H. Garavan A. Heinz B. Ittermann M. Lathrop E. Loth K. Mann J.-L. Martinot F. Nees T. Paus M. Rietschel T. W. Robbins M. N. Smolka R. Spanagel A. Strohle M. Struve G. Schumann C. Buchel 2012 Risk taking and the adolescent reward system: a potential common link to substance abuse American Journal of Psychiatry 169 1 39 46.
D. J. Schutter I. van Bokhoven L. J. Vanderschuren J. E. Lochman W. Matthys 2011 Risky decision making in substance dependent adolescents with a disruptive behavior disorder Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 39 3 333 339.
R. Shapiro A. W. Siegel L. C. Scovill J. Hays 1998 Risk-taking patterns of female adolescents: What they do and why Journal of Adolescence 21 2 143 159.
R. Sinha 2008 Chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1141 105 130.
L. H. Somerville R. M. Jones B. J. Casey 2010 A time of change: Behavioral and neural correlates of adolescent sensitivity to appetitive and aversive environmental cues Brain & Cognition 72 1 124 133.
L. Steinberg 2004 Risk taking in adolescence: What changes, and why? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1021 51 58.
J. Suhr D. Hammers 2010 Who fails the Iowa Gambling Test (IGT)? Personality, neuropsychological, and near-infrared spectroscopy findings in healthy young controls Archives of the Clinical Neuropsychology 25 4 293 302.
D. L. Sun Z. J. Chen N. Ma X. C. Zhang X. M. Fu D. R. Zhang 2009 Decision-making and prepotent response inhibition functions in excessive internet users CNS Spectrums 14 2 75 81.
A. Tymula L. A. Rosenberg Belmaker A. K. Roy L. Ruderman K. Manson P. W. Glimcher I. Levy 2012 Adolescents' risk-taking behavior is driven by tolerance to ambiguity Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109 42 17135 117140.
L. Van Leijenhorst B. Gunther Moor Z. A. Op de Macks S. A. Rombouts P. M. Westenberg E. A. Crone 2010 Adolescent risky decision-making: Neurocognitive development of reward and control regions Neuroimage 51 1 345 355.
V. Venkatraman J. W. Payne J. R. Bettman M. F. Luce S. A. Huettel 2009 Separate neural mechanisms underlie choices and strategic preferences in risky decision making Neuron 62 4 593 602.
S. P. Whiteside D. R. Lynam 2003 Understanding the role of impulsivity and externalizing psychopathology in alcohol abuse: Application of the UPPS impulsive behavior scale Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 11 3 210 217.
J. M. Wolff L. J. Crockett 2011 The role of deliberative decision making, parenting, and friends in adolescent risk behaviors Journal of Youth & Adolescence 40 12 1607 1622.
Yau, Y. H. C., Potenza, M. N. & White, M. A. (2012). Problematic Internet use, mental health and impulse control in an online sample of adults. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. doi: .
A. Zermatten M. Van der Linden M. d'Acremont F. Jermann A. Bechara 2005 Impulsivity and decision making Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 193 10 647 650.
Dr. Zsolt Demetrovics
Institute of Psychology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University
Address: Izabella u. 46. H-1064 Budapest, Hungary
Indexing and Abstracting Services:
|Web of Science|
|Journal Impact Factor||7,772|
|Rank by Impact Factor||Psychiatry SCIE 26/155
Psychiatry SSCI 19/142
Journal Self Cites
|Journal Citation Indicator||1,39|
|Rank by Journal Citation Indicator||
|Scimago Quartile Score||Clinical Psychology (Q1)
Medicine (miscellaneous) (Q1)
Psychiatry and Mental Health (Q1)
CIte Score Rank
|Clinical Psychology 5/292 (D1)
Psychiatry and Mental Health 20/529 (D1)
Medicine (miscellaneous) 17/276 (D1)
|Rank by||Psychiatry (SSCI) 12/143 (Q1)|
|Impact Factor||Psychiatry 19/156 (Q1)|
|Journal Self Cites|
|Rank by Journal||Psychiatry 24/250 (Q1)|
|Scimago||Clinical Psychology Q1|
|Quartile Score||Psychiatry and Mental Health Q1|
|Medicine (miscellaneous) Q1|
|Scopus||Clinical Psychology 7/283 (Q1)|
|Scite Score Rank||Psychiatry and Mental Health 22/502 (Q1)|
|to 1st decision|
Journal Self Cites
Scite Score Rank
|Cllinical Psychology 16/275 (Q1)
Medicine (miscellenous) 31/219 (Q1)
Psychiatry and Mental Health 47/506 (Q1)
|Journal of Behavioral Addictions|
|Publication Model||Gold Open Access|
|Article Processing Charge||850 EUR/article|
|Printed Color Illustrations||40 EUR (or 10 000 HUF) + VAT / piece|
|Regional discounts on country of the funding agency||World Bank Lower-middle-income economies: 50%
World Bank Low-income economies: 100%
|Further Discounts||Editorial Board / Advisory Board members: 50%
Corresponding authors, affiliated to an EISZ member institution subscribing to the journal package of Akadémiai Kiadó: 100%
|Subscription Information||Gold Open Access|
|Journal of Behavioral Addictions|
|Founder||Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem|
|H-1053 Budapest, Hungary Egyetem tér 1-3.|
|H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.|
|Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó|
Editor(s)-in-Chief: Zsolt DEMETROVICS
Assistant Editor(s): Csilla ÁGOSTON
|Abstract Views||Full Text Views||PDF Downloads|