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Adolescent (In)vulnerability by Marilyn Jacobs Essay

Adolescents are often viewed in a negative light that depicts them as risk-takers, irrational decision makers, and vulnerable to dangers. The validity of the above statement is proven true by the peer-reviewed journal article entitled Adolescent (In)vulnerability by Marilyn Jacobs Quadrel, Baruch Fischhoff, and Wendy Davis. The article reveals the results of three groups that were questioned on their perception of how likely they might experience different risks. The subjects included a range of individuals from different socio economic status such as middle class adults with their teenage children and high-risk adolescents receiving treatment for different diagnosis. Some of the risks included automobile accidents, unwanted pregnancies, alcoholism, being a victim of a mugging, and becoming sick from various elements such as air pollution or poison. The results show that all of the subjects feel that they would face less risk in comparison to others.

The opinion of relative invulnerability was about the same for the adolescents and the adults. Boththe teenagers and their parents agree that the parents are less vulnerable to specific risks. The study reveals that there is a slight difference in the way adolescents and adults think when they are faced with making a decision. One huge problem is that adolescents may be perceived as incompetent to make a decision which could lead to their rights being revoked and wrongly diagnosing the true foundation of their risk behaviors. The study implies that one explanation for why adolescents take great risks is because they underestimate the likelihood that a negative outcome will occur to them. Although adolescents have awareness that risks are involved, they also have misunderstandings of risks associated with certain behaviors that vary due to the adolescent’s socio economic status.

Overall, the study shows that there is not enough support to prove that perceived invulnerability is largely present during adolescence, but evidence is present to conclude adults steadily display invulnerability. When estimating one’s risk, the psychological process for all ages are similar and biased which leads to the result of ones belief as less vulnerable in comparison to someone else. Flaws appear in every study because of different variables such as the participants or their environment. One flaw of this study may be the aspect of time pressures created by the subjects that may differ in a real-life situation. A second imperfection of the study is pressure from peers is not accounted for and is neglectful of social backing. This flaw is crucial because peer pressure is a huge part of teens engaging in riskier behavior. Evidence is revealed that teens are more likely to engage or partake in riskier behaviors without foreseeing the consequences when in a group or surrounded by acquaintances.

A follow up study to this one that would attempt to eradicate a major flaw would be to study both the adolescents and adults when in a group or a peer setting. The results might be different due to peer pressure and the desire to be popular or fit in. Two discussion questions that prompted from the reading of the journal article are: 1. Should the legal drinking age in the U.S. be lowered to 18? Are 18 year olds able to purchase and consume alcohol responsibly? 2. Should birth control be available to teenagers without parental consent? Would access to birth control prevent or lower the rate of unwanted teen pregnancies? I believe that this study presents many important aspects of the similarities and differences between adolescents and adults when it comes to making a decision and being perceived as vulnerable to a risk. I agree that individuals have a misconstrued awareness of one’s vulnerability to risks in comparison to friends, family members and strangers. Based on personal experience, I believe I was more inclined to be impulsive and irrational as an adolescent compared to my current age.

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