Interpreting Benefits and Risks: Analysis of Risk-Taking in Emerging Adulthood

  • Author / Creator
    Makowecki, Erika
  • Engagement in risk-taking behaviours can have adverse health impacts for individuals across their lifetimes. Understanding how individuals perceive the benefits and risks involved with various types of risk behaviour is instrumental in implementing effective prevention and intervention initiatives. Researchers suggest that risk-taking behaviours often emerge in adolescence; however, the trajectory of cognitive development is thought to continue until the age of 25. Therefore, the current study sought to gain a clearer understanding of risk-taking behaviours, specifically by examining the cognitive appraisals of individuals in the transitional period of emerging adulthood. In examining the impact of individual differences of past experiences, including individuals’ propensity for reactive and reasoned risk-taking and appraisals of benefits and risks, we hope to gain clarity in what motivates expected future risk- taking. The sample comprised of 105 participants (Mage = 21.9) and considered four distinct domains of risk-taking behaviours: (a) sexual activities, (b) heavy drinking, (c) drug use, (d) drinking and driving behaviours. Zero-order correlations were used to examine the associations among the participants’ demographic and psychosocial variables and expected future involvement. Four separate hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to assess if individuals’ perceived benefits and risks influence their expected future involvement in risk- taking behaviours after controlling for age (Step 1), and furthermore, to assess if participants’ reactive or reasoned past experiences contributed to explaining expected future involvement in risk-taking behaviours (Step 2). Age and sex were not significant predictors of future risk-taking behaviour in the current study. Consistent with previous research, perceived benefits predicted expected involvement in future risk-taking behaviours across all four domains. Sexual activities and drinking and driving behaviours were predicted only by perceived benefits whereas,
    perceived benefits and past experiences of reasoned risk-taking behaviour were significant predictors of expected future heavy drinking. Only in the domain of drug use was the expected future involvement predicted by perceived benefits and risks and past experiences of reactive and reasoned risk-taking behaviours. Implications of the current research findings include considerations for supporting the health and well-being of emerging adults and reducing harm in terms of risk-taking behaviours.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.