The Development of Judgment and Decision Making in Children and Adolescents

By Janis E. Jacobs; Paul A. Klaczynski | Go to book overview

Commentary:
Lessons From a Life-Span
Perspective to Adolescent
Decision Making

Cynthia A. Berg

University of Utah

The chapters in Part II address important aspects of adolescent decision making that have received little attention in the literature to date. Decision making is examined as adolescents make decisions regarding their after- school activities (Gauvain & Perez, chap. 7), make decisions utilizing democratic versus authority-based justifications (Helwig, chap. 6), make judgments regarding the frequency with which peers in general engage in deviant behaviors (Jacobs & Johnston, chap. 5), and utilize regret to avoid making bad decisions (Amsel, Bowden, Cottrell, & Sullivan, chap. 4). These chapters address crucial issues in the field concerning how to characterize the adolescent decision maker (e.g., competent vs. incompetent), the domain of decision making (from the more everyday task of making decisions regarding which after-school activity to be involved in to decisions regarding at-risk behaviors), and the development of decision making across adolescence (gaining autonomy to make independent decisions). Cutting across these chapters are three themes: (a) adolescent decision making occurs in a rich context of parental, peer, and cultural influences; (b) individual autonomy guides much of the decision making of adolescents; and (c) adolescents are both competent and cognitively mature as well as incompetent and risky decision makers. These themes are consonant with a broader life-span developmental perspective to decision making. In my comments, I elaborate on how lessons learned within a life-span perspective to adolescent decision making may prove useful in the next steps in this literature as researchers continue to broaden the scope of models and tasks to capture the complexity of decision- making processes as they occur in adolescents' daily lives.

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