Young people around the world have a new excuse the next time they get caught doing something risky. "My brain made me do it."
According to new research in the journal Developmental Science, teenagers and young adults are actually hardwired to take risks. Researchers studied the behaviors of more than 5,000 people between the ages of 10 and 30 from 11 countries. Risky behavior peaked at age 19, the researchers found.
This isn't the first time research has found that teenagers are neurologically wired to make bad decisions, but it is one of the first times it's been studied outside of western culture. Although the researchers found that adolescents are more apt to make risky decisions no matter where they're from, whether or not they actually take a lot of risks depends on the context in which they grow up.
"Just because something is rooted in biology, doesn’t mean that it’s not malleable and that there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Laurence Steinberg, the study's lead author, according to The New York Times. "Even in China we are finding that adolescents are at a time of heightened sensation seeking, but they don’t engage in the high rates of drug use, unprotected sex and recklessness that we see in America and Western Europe.”
So just because young people want to take risks, doesn't mean they have no control over their impulsive brains. Maybe that excuse wouldn't work after all.