Bridging the gap: relating laboratory measures to real-life risk-taking behavior in adolescence


Adolescence is characterized by an increase in risk-taking behavior. Although risk-taking behavior is studied widely and much progress has been made over the last years to understand experimental models of risk-taking, the relationship with real life behavior remains unclear. Two hypotheses why lab tasks might not relate to real-life behavior are 1) lab tasks target a different decision-making process than real-life risk-taking and 2) decision-making is highly variable and the current measures do not capture this variability, thus introducing noise in the data. In this proposal I will test both of these hypotheses.

Most current lab tasks are played for hypothetical money and often target cognitive aspects of risk-taking. To test whether a lab task that is more similar to real-life experiences can explain more variance in real-life risky behavior, I will use a new, fast, continuous betting task played for real outcomes. To test variability in behavior, I will use daily assessments of behavior and multiple measurements of behavior in the lab. Finally, to predict long-term changes in risk-taking behavior, participants will be measured again after one year. I will investigate which measures best predict long-term changes in risk taking behavior. Prediction of which adolescents will take real world risks is the first step towards prevention of excessive risk-taking behavior.

The results of this proposal will give insight into the relationship between real-life behavior and fluctuations in lab behavior and neural activity, and will provide new measures to better predict real-life risk-taking behavior. Better understanding of these relationships is essential to understanding real world consequences. Results will be disseminated to the scientific community through open access publications and conference presentations, to society through public lectures, and to policy makers through consulting work.





Dr. B.R. Braams

Verbonden aan

Centre for Brain Science, North West Building


01/01/2018 tot 31/12/2020