Risk perception and risk-taking behaviour during adolescence: The influence of personality and gender

R.L.E.P. Reniers, L. Murphy, Ashleigh Lin, S.P. Bartolomé, S.J. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Reniers et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This study investigated the influence of personality characteristics and gender on adolescents' perception of risk and their risk-taking behaviour. Male and female participants (157 females: 116 males, aged 13-20) completed self-report measures on risk perception, risktaking and personality. Male participants perceived behaviours as less risky, reportedly took more risks, were less sensitive to negative outcomes and less socially anxious than female participants. Path analysis identified a model in which age, behavioural inhibition and impulsiveness directly influenced risk perception, while age, social anxiety, impulsiveness, sensitivity to reward, behavioural inhibition and risk perception itself were directly or indirectly associated with risk-taking behaviour. Age and behavioural inhibition had direct relationships with social anxiety, and reward sensitivity was associated with impulsiveness. The model was representative for the whole sample and male and female groups separately. The observed relationship between age and social anxiety and the influence this may have on risk-taking behaviour could be key for reducing adolescent risk-taking behaviour. Even though adolescents may understand the riskiness of their behaviour and estimate their vulnerability to risk at a similar level to adults, factors such as anxiety regarding social situations, sensitivity to reward and impulsiveness may exert their influence and make these individuals prone to taking risks. If these associations are proven causal, these factors are, and will continue to be, important targets in prevention and intervention efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0153842
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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