Risk-taking patterns of female adolescents: What they do and why

Rita Shapiro, Alexander W. Siegel, Lori C. Scovill, Jennifer Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


A total of 58 college-age adolescent females were asked to provide information about their risk-taking behaviors. Participants completed a risk-taking questionnaire and were asked to keep a diary of their risk-taking behaviors for 1 week. Participants were also asked to provide reasons for engaging in each behavior they listed. Results indicated that participants engaged in a variety of risky behaviors ranging from traditional adolescent risk-taking behaviors, e.g. drinking and sex, to other behaviors not typically included in studies of risk-taking, e.g. interpersonal and financial risky behaviors. An analysis of the justifications given for engaging in the various behaviors were largely goal-oriented (e.g. engaging in a behavior as a means to an end) or reflected a preoccupation with personal needs (e.g. engaging in a behavior to relieve loneliness or stress). These results are contrary to the widely held belief that adolescents' risk-taking is 'mindless', 'aimless', or mere 'sensation seeking'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-159
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998


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