Anticipating and Avoiding Regret
as a Model of Adolescent
Weber State University
Adolescence is certainly a time of contrast, conflict, and contradiction. This also applies to theoretical characterizations of adolescent cognition. On one hand, adolescence has been described as a time when cognitive abilities underlying rationality are acquired. The cognitive abilities acquired during adolescence are the elements of hypothetic deduction (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958), the foundation of scientific thought itself (Braithwaite, 1957). Such cognitive abilities include logical reasoning (Moshman & Franks, 1986; Mueller, Overton, & Reene, 2001), hypothetical reasoning (Amsel & Smalley, 2000; Fay & Klahr, 1996), and empirical reasoning (Amsel & Brock, 1996; Kuhn, Amsel, & O'Loughlin, 1988; Kuhn, Garcia-Mila, Zohar, & Andersen, 1995). On the other hand, adolescence is also described as a time of engaging in risky behavior, with none other than G. Stanley Hall himself (cited by Arnett, 1999) characterizing it as "normal" for adolescent boys to engage in a period of semicriminality. Adolescents engage in many forms of risky behaviors more frequently than children or adults (Arnett, 1992; Byrnes, Miller, & Schafer, 1999; Irwin, 1993). These ill-considered actions run the gamut from thrill seeking and recklessness to rebelliousness and antisocial behaviors (Gullone, Moore, Moss, & Boyd, 2000).
Like a bad case of cognitive dissonance, the contrasting characterizations of adolescents as thoughtful and impulsive, deliberative and impetuous, or reflective and foolhardy are difficult to hold simultaneously. It comes then as no surprise that these conflicting characterizations are not often presented together. There are book-length treatises that focus exclusively on adoles