When Do those “Risk-Taking Adolescents” Take Risks? The Combined Effects of Risk Encouragement by Peers, Mild-to-Borderline Intellectual Disability and Sex

E. Wagemaker, H.M. Huizenga, T.J. Dekkers, A.L. Collot d’Escury-Koenigs, E. Salemink, A. Bexkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Adolescents with mild to borderline intellectual disability (MBID) show more daily life risk taking than typically developing adolescents. To obtain insight in when these “risk-taking adolescents” especially take risks, we investigated main and interaction effects of (a) MBID, (b) sex, and (c) type of peer influence on risk taking. The Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) was used as a proxy of real-life risk taking. 356 adolescents (12–19 years, 51.7% MBID, 63.4% boys) were randomly assigned to one of three BART peer-influence conditions: solo (no peers), positive risk encouragement (e.g., ‘You are cool if you continue’) or negative risk encouragement (e.g., ‘You are a softy if you do not continue’). The main finding was that boys with MBID took more risks than typically developing boys in the negative risk encouragement condition. Boys with MBID also took more risks in the negative risk encouragement condition compared to the solo condition, whereas typically developing boys did not. There were no such effects for girls. Surprisingly, boys with MBID took less risks in the solo condition than typically developing boys. We conclude that boys with MBID especially show high risk taking when peers belittle or threat with exclusion from the peer group. Prevention and intervention programs should specifically target boys with MBID to teach them to resist negative risk encouragement by peers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-587
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume48
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Balloon Analogue Risk Task
  • Intellectual disability
  • Peer influence
  • Risk taking

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