Adolescent decision making


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  • decision making is not automaticskill must be learned and practicedineffective decision making can lead to long-term negative consequenceseffective decision making is resiliency factor
  • Search institute identified as 1 of 40 assets that contribute to resiliencyoutcomes more positive for resilient kids5 other factors related to good decision making: self-esteempersonal powerrestraintintegrityand positive view of personal future
  • Jean Piagetstraddling two cognitive stages: concrete operational: basic ability to reason with concrete objectsformal operational: begin to think abstractly, less egocentrism, metacognition (thinking about thinking)
  • shift in thinking = increasingly able to consider hypothetical situations, multiple perspectives, future consequences, and alternative options.
  • higher order thinking skills also develop because of physical changes in the brain. Amygdala and Limbic system mature earlierresponsible for emotional responses, long-term memory, and behavioral tendencies
  • Prefrontal Cortexnot fully developed until well into adulthoodresponsible for ability to control emotional and social responses to stimulimodulates sensitivity to different kinds of rewardsidentifies the significance of stimuliexerts control over impulses
  • greatest difference in maturation between limbic system and prefrontal cortex is during adolescenceprocess that allows cognitive maturation & better choices impairs ability to control impulses and results in increased risk-taking behavior. decisions more likely to be based on emotions or impulsive desires to obtain a perceived reward
  • adults do not analyze risks like adultsmotivated to seek out new, exciting, or emotionally charged stimulimay feel positives of a risk (like social acceptance) may outweigh negatives, like health risks
  • due to adolescent’s strong social prioritieslack of ability to perceive long-term consequenceseven when consequences are known, egocentrism can make adolescents feel invincible to negative outcomesheightened by higher sensitivity to rewards and lessened sensitivity to adverse effects.
  • example: may experience a lesser degree of behavioral change and hangover from drinking alcohol than mature adults do
  • school decision making programs: focused on how to avoid risk taking behaviors and less on true decision making skills. Programs like Just say no and abstinence focused sex education are ineffective b/c “messy situations presented as having only one or two options
  • students led to believe there is only one healthy choice and sometimes presented with exaggerated risks in order to scare them “straight”often backfires because classes often leave out sensitive or controversial information that students needAlso, can strengthen egocentric thought if risky behaviors are done and expected outcomes are not experiencedIf so, more likely to continue taking risks and may stop using precautions to protect themselves.
  • Decision making programs in schools also face problems making approaches seem relevantmany methods advise weighting options by relevance and probability of occurrencestudents resent making charts/graphs, report that it takes to long to be useful, and have trouble with the probability calculations(exception, sports statistics)
  • Effective strategies must:seem relevant and usefulprovide a framework for looking at problemshelp adolescents learn to identify optionsencourage looking and immediate and long-term consequences for each choicehelp them avoid making biased decisions
  • Adolescents are particularly susceptible to biases including temporal myopia, the preference for instant gratification over waiting for a larger gainbecause of: egocentrism, highly active limbic system, and immature prefrontal cortexTable with biases… to discuss
  • Education about common biases is not effective in avoiding them… teaching sound reasoning skills and a logical approach to decision making does.
  • basic decision making process:listing relevant choicesidentifying potential consequences of each choiceassess the likelihood of each consequence occurringdetermine importance of those consequencescombine all information to decide which choice is the most appealing or beneficial
  • 4 decision making strategies taught to adolescents: Three C’s GOOP GOFEROdyssey
  • Challenge, Choices, Consequencesidentify problem, write all possible choices, find positives and negative consequences of each choice.
  • helps adolescents focus on finding multiple options and to avoid single-mindedness and myside biasno mathematical componentgroup work encouraged to find solutionscases have real world significance and acknowledge that there can be positives and negatives to risk-taking behavior
  • What do I want, what can I do, what might happen? determine GOALSexamine OPTIONS availablepredict OUTCOMES consider PROBABILITIES of uncertain outcomes
  • Multiattribute chart, compare outcomes across multiple domainsno difficulty using chart, problems calculating probabilities (simple utility (desirability), weight, x for weighted utilities, then + for total utility. )highest total utility is best option in perfect scenarioreport: little practical value and unlikely to use it for most decisions
  • direct instruction, tailored for mid-adolescents aged 14-15helps students identify goals and options, recognize and find good information, acknowledge the external influences that affect their choices, and accurately access risks involved with their options.
  • balance sheet, think about gains and losses for themselves, others, their self-approval and how others will approve of them. this approach addresses egocentrism and helps students consider decisions from multiple perspectives
  • Goals, Options, Facts, Effects, and Reviewcanvas for a wide range of alternativesdetermine objectives and values implicated by the choiceweigh every negative and possible consequence possiblesearch for relevant informationassess information without biasreevaluate the consequences before making choiceplan for implementation and contingencies
  • Any problem can be understood if you have enough information and interpret it carefullydiscovery learning with instructor guidance assign importance to options and rank them to obtain a simple weighted value. unlike GOOP, it illustrates how this system will not work for all real life problems
  • presents dilemmas that are increasingly “messy” and harder to solve with mathematical analysisstresses need for adaptation and information gathering. helps adolescents gain confidence in their ability to think analytically and assess the world around them Goal is to make framework so familiar and useful that students will resort to it outside of the course
  • Greatest benefit, incorporate decision making skills and problem solving into the curriculum across domainsany system taught to adolescents must be simple and broadly useful or they will view decision making strategies as purely academic exercises
  • Easy steps to encourage critical thinking and problem solvingencourage decision making by giving them choicesmodel decision making thought processesencourage working in groups, seeking advice, and researching informationprovide information about development and explain how impulsivity, emotions, and social influences can affect their decision making
  • help adolescents learn to recognize biased information and biases in the thinking processEncourage students to seek out their own options and solutionspractice forward-thinking
  • giving adolescents the skills and confidence they need to make good decisions will help them to avoid dangerous risk-taking behaviors and become more resilient. Adolescents need this instruction and opportunities to practice the developing skill.
  • Adolescent decision making

    1. 1. Adolescent Decision MakingAmber Howard
    2. 2. Adolescents do not grow intogood decision making. Skill that must belearned andpracticed Ineffective decisionmaking can lead tolong-term negativeconsequences
    3. 3. Search institute lists it as onedevelopmental asset for resiliency5 other resiliency factors related to gooddecision making: self-esteem personal power restraint integrity and positive view of personal future
    4. 4. Adolescents are between two cognitivestages according to Jean PiagetConcrete Operational(7-12)Formal Operational(12-Adult)Basic ability to reasonwith concrete objectsBegin to think abstractly,Less egocentrism,Metacognition (thinkingabout thinking)
    5. 5. This shift in thinking means theyare increasingly able to considerHypotheticalSituationsMultiplePerspectivesFutureConsequencesAlternative Options
    6. 6. Higher order thinking also developsdue to physical changes in the brain. Emotionalresponses Long-termmemory BehavioraltendenciesAmygdala and Limbic System
    7. 7. Prefrontal Cortex Not fully developed untilwell into adulthood Responsible for ability tocontrol emotional andsocial responses tostimuli Modulates sensitivity todifferent kinds of rewards Identifies the significanceof stimuli Exerts control overimpulses
    8. 8. The greatest difference in maturation between thelimbic system and the prefrontal cortex is duringadolescence.Cognitive maturation difference actually impairsthe ability to control impulses and results inincreased risk-taking behavior.Adolescent decisions are more likely to be basedon emotions or impulsive desires than reason.
    9. 9. Adolescents analyze riskdifferently than adultsMotivated to seek out new,exciting, or emotionallycharged stimuliMay believe the positives of arisk (like social acceptance)may outweigh the negatives(like health risks)
    10. 10. Causes: Adolescent’s strong social priorities Lack of ability to perceive long-termconsequencesEven when consequences are known,egocentrism can make adolescents feelinvincible to negative outcomesThis is heightened by higher sensitivity torewards and lessened sensitivity toadverse effects.
    11. 11. Example: may experience a lesser degree ofbehavioral change and hangover fromdrinking alcohol than mature adults do
    12. 12. School Decision MakingPrograms Many focus on how to avoidrisk taking behaviors andless on true decisionmaking skills. Programs like Just say noand abstinence focused sexeducation are present“messy situations as havingonly one or two options
    13. 13.  Students presented with one healthychoice or exaggerated risks in order toscare them “straight” Often backfires because classes oftenleave out sensitive or controversialinformation that students need Also, can strengthen egocentricthought if risky behaviors are done andexpected outcomes are notexperienced If so, more likely to continue takingrisks and may stop using precautions toprotect themselves.
    14. 14. Relevancy Many methods adviseweighting options byrelevance and probabilityof occurrence Students resentmaking charts/graphs,report that it takes tolong to be useful, andhave trouble with theprobability calculations
    15. 15. Effective strategies must: seem relevant and useful provide a framework for looking at problems help adolescents learn to identify options encourage looking and immediate and long-term consequences for each choice help them avoid making biased decisions
    16. 16. Decision Making Biases More susceptible because: Egocentrism Highly active limbic system Immature prefrontal cortex Including Temporal Myopia:The preference for instant gratification overwaiting for a larger gain
    17. 17. InsufficientSearchImpulsive decision making, sacrificing speed overaccuracy.Single-mindednessDecision is based on a single dimension and excludesother factors.Myside BiasInflexible decision making, unwilling to change mind,finds support for original desired choice and ignoresother information.Sink-cost EffectRefusal to abandon a choice that is not workingbecause of a prior investment of time, money, or effortinto the decision.Endowment/Framing EffectsInability to take another perspective, overvaluing whatis currently had over what might be obtained orachieved.Omission BiasHarmful actions are judged to be worse than equallyor more harmful inactions.Neglect ofUncertainOutcomes orImperceptibleOutcomesDecisions based on the assumption that there will beno quantifiable harm done to another party, an actionor inaction is viewed as acceptable because of how athird-party might manage or mismanage the outcome.
    18. 18.  Education aboutcommon biases isnot effective inreducing them Teaching a logicalapproach todecision makingdoes
    19. 19. Basic Decision Making Process1. List relevant choices2. Identifying potential consequences3. Assess likelihood of consequences4. Determine importance of each5. Combine all information to decide whichchoice is the most beneficial
    20. 20. 4 Decision making strategiestaught to adolescentsThree C’s GOOPGOFER Odyssey
    21. 21. Three C’sChallenge, Choices, Consequences Identify problem Write all possible choices Find positives and negativeconsequences of each choice.
    22. 22.  Focus: finding multipleoptions and avoid single-mindedness and mysidebias Group work encouraged tofind solutions Cases have real worldsignificance andacknowledges that therecan be positives andnegatives to risk-takingbehavior No mathematicalcomponent
    23. 23. GOOPWhat do I want? What can I do? What might happen?G - determine GOALSO- examine OPTIONS availableO- predict OUTCOMESP- consider PROBABILITIES ofuncertain outcomes
    24. 24.  Multiattribute chart, compare outcomes acrossmultiple domains No difficulty using chart, problems calculatingprobabilities (simple utility (desirability),weight, x for weighted utilities, then + for totalutility. ) Highest total utility is best option in perfectscenario Students report: little practical value andunlikely to use it for most decisions
    25. 25. GOFER Direct instruction, tailored for mid-adolescents aged 14-15 Helps students: Identify goals and options Recognize and find good information Acknowledge the external influences thataffect choices Accurately access risks involved with theiroptions.
    26. 26. This approach addresses egocentrism and helpsstudents consider decisions from multipleperspectivesGains LossesFor YourselfFor OthersTo Your Self-ApprovalTo Approval byOthersBalance Sheet
    27. 27. GOFER:Goals, Options, Facts, Effects, and Review1. Canvas for a wide range of alternatives2. Determine objectives and values implicated bythe choice3. Weigh every negative and positiveconsequence possible4. Search for relevant information5. Assess information without bias6. Reevaluate the consequences before making achoice7. Plan for implementation and contingencies
    28. 28. OdysseyAny problem can be understood if you haveenough information and interpret it carefully.Discovery learning with instructor guidance Assign importance to options, then rankthem to obtain a simple weighted value. Unlike GOOP, Odyssey illustrates how thissystem will not work for all real lifeproblems
    29. 29.  Presents dilemmas that areincreasingly “messy” and harderto solve with mathematicalanalysis Stresses need for adaptation andinformation gathering. Helps adolescents gainconfidence in their ability to thinkanalytically and assess the worldaround them The goal is to make theframework so familiar and usefulthat students will resort to itoutside of the course
    30. 30. For the greatest benefit,incorporate decisionmaking skills andproblem solving into thecurriculum acrossdomainsAny system taught toadolescents must besimple and broadlyuseful or they will viewdecision makingstrategies as purelyacademic exercises
    31. 31. Easy steps to encourage criticalthinking and problem solving Encourage decision making by givingstudents choices Model decision making thought processes Encourage working in groups, seeking advice,and researching information
    32. 32.  Educate about physical development andexplain how impulsivity, emotions, and socialinfluences can affect decision making Help adolescents learn to recognize biasedinformation and biases in the thinking process Encourage students to seek out their ownoptions and solutions Practice forward-thinkingContinued…
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