The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior: Implications for science, policy, and practice

Bruce J Ellis, Marco Del Giudice, Thomas J. Dishion, Aurelio J Figueredo, Peter Gray, Vladas Griskevicius, Patricia H. Hawley, William J Jacobs, Jeneé James, Anthony A. Volk, David Sloan Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

297 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article proposes an evolutionary model of risky behavior in adolescence and contrasts it with the prevailing developmental psychopathology model. The evolutionary model contends that understanding the evolutionary functions of adolescence is critical to explaining why adolescents engage in risky behavior and that successful intervention depends on working with, instead of against, adolescent goals and motivations. The current article articulates 5 key evolutionary insights into risky adolescent behavior: (a) The adolescent transition is an inflection point in development of social status and reproductive trajectories; (b) interventions need to address the adaptive functions of risky and aggressive behaviors like bullying; (c) risky adolescent behavior adaptively calibrates over development to match both harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions; (d) understanding evolved sex differences is critical for understanding the psychology of risky behavior; and (e) mismatches between current and past environments can dysregulate adolescent behavior, as demonstrated by age-segregated social groupings. The evolutionary model has broad implications for designing interventions for high-risk youth and suggests new directions for research that have not been forthcoming from other perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-623
Number of pages26
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2012

Fingerprint

Adolescent Behavior
science policy
adolescent
adolescence
Bullying
aggressive behavior
psychopathology
mismatch
Psychopathology
Sex Characteristics
grouping
environmental factors
Motivation
social status
exclusion
psychology
Psychology
Research

Keywords

  • Bullying
  • Environmental mismatch
  • Evolution and development
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Demography

Cite this

The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior : Implications for science, policy, and practice. / Ellis, Bruce J; Del Giudice, Marco; Dishion, Thomas J.; Figueredo, Aurelio J; Gray, Peter; Griskevicius, Vladas; Hawley, Patricia H.; Jacobs, William J; James, Jeneé; Volk, Anthony A.; Wilson, David Sloan.

In: Developmental Psychology, Vol. 48, No. 3, 05.2012, p. 598-623.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ellis, BJ, Del Giudice, M, Dishion, TJ, Figueredo, AJ, Gray, P, Griskevicius, V, Hawley, PH, Jacobs, WJ, James, J, Volk, AA & Wilson, DS 2012, 'The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior: Implications for science, policy, and practice', Developmental Psychology, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 598-623. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026220
Ellis, Bruce J ; Del Giudice, Marco ; Dishion, Thomas J. ; Figueredo, Aurelio J ; Gray, Peter ; Griskevicius, Vladas ; Hawley, Patricia H. ; Jacobs, William J ; James, Jeneé ; Volk, Anthony A. ; Wilson, David Sloan. / The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior : Implications for science, policy, and practice. In: Developmental Psychology. 2012 ; Vol. 48, No. 3. pp. 598-623.
@article{a353006b1ebf49649812a508763ab4dc,
title = "The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior: Implications for science, policy, and practice",
abstract = "This article proposes an evolutionary model of risky behavior in adolescence and contrasts it with the prevailing developmental psychopathology model. The evolutionary model contends that understanding the evolutionary functions of adolescence is critical to explaining why adolescents engage in risky behavior and that successful intervention depends on working with, instead of against, adolescent goals and motivations. The current article articulates 5 key evolutionary insights into risky adolescent behavior: (a) The adolescent transition is an inflection point in development of social status and reproductive trajectories; (b) interventions need to address the adaptive functions of risky and aggressive behaviors like bullying; (c) risky adolescent behavior adaptively calibrates over development to match both harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions; (d) understanding evolved sex differences is critical for understanding the psychology of risky behavior; and (e) mismatches between current and past environments can dysregulate adolescent behavior, as demonstrated by age-segregated social groupings. The evolutionary model has broad implications for designing interventions for high-risk youth and suggests new directions for research that have not been forthcoming from other perspectives.",
keywords = "Bullying, Environmental mismatch, Evolution and development, Evolutionary psychology, Intervention",
author = "Ellis, {Bruce J} and {Del Giudice}, Marco and Dishion, {Thomas J.} and Figueredo, {Aurelio J} and Peter Gray and Vladas Griskevicius and Hawley, {Patricia H.} and Jacobs, {William J} and Jene{\'e} James and Volk, {Anthony A.} and Wilson, {David Sloan}",
year = "2012",
month = "5",
doi = "10.1037/a0026220",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "48",
pages = "598--623",
journal = "Developmental Psychology",
issn = "0012-1649",
publisher = "American Psychological Association Inc.",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior

T2 - Implications for science, policy, and practice

AU - Ellis, Bruce J

AU - Del Giudice, Marco

AU - Dishion, Thomas J.

AU - Figueredo, Aurelio J

AU - Gray, Peter

AU - Griskevicius, Vladas

AU - Hawley, Patricia H.

AU - Jacobs, William J

AU - James, Jeneé

AU - Volk, Anthony A.

AU - Wilson, David Sloan

PY - 2012/5

Y1 - 2012/5

N2 - This article proposes an evolutionary model of risky behavior in adolescence and contrasts it with the prevailing developmental psychopathology model. The evolutionary model contends that understanding the evolutionary functions of adolescence is critical to explaining why adolescents engage in risky behavior and that successful intervention depends on working with, instead of against, adolescent goals and motivations. The current article articulates 5 key evolutionary insights into risky adolescent behavior: (a) The adolescent transition is an inflection point in development of social status and reproductive trajectories; (b) interventions need to address the adaptive functions of risky and aggressive behaviors like bullying; (c) risky adolescent behavior adaptively calibrates over development to match both harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions; (d) understanding evolved sex differences is critical for understanding the psychology of risky behavior; and (e) mismatches between current and past environments can dysregulate adolescent behavior, as demonstrated by age-segregated social groupings. The evolutionary model has broad implications for designing interventions for high-risk youth and suggests new directions for research that have not been forthcoming from other perspectives.

AB - This article proposes an evolutionary model of risky behavior in adolescence and contrasts it with the prevailing developmental psychopathology model. The evolutionary model contends that understanding the evolutionary functions of adolescence is critical to explaining why adolescents engage in risky behavior and that successful intervention depends on working with, instead of against, adolescent goals and motivations. The current article articulates 5 key evolutionary insights into risky adolescent behavior: (a) The adolescent transition is an inflection point in development of social status and reproductive trajectories; (b) interventions need to address the adaptive functions of risky and aggressive behaviors like bullying; (c) risky adolescent behavior adaptively calibrates over development to match both harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions; (d) understanding evolved sex differences is critical for understanding the psychology of risky behavior; and (e) mismatches between current and past environments can dysregulate adolescent behavior, as demonstrated by age-segregated social groupings. The evolutionary model has broad implications for designing interventions for high-risk youth and suggests new directions for research that have not been forthcoming from other perspectives.

KW - Bullying

KW - Environmental mismatch

KW - Evolution and development

KW - Evolutionary psychology

KW - Intervention

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84865658893&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84865658893&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1037/a0026220

DO - 10.1037/a0026220

M3 - Article

C2 - 22122473

AN - SCOPUS:84865658893

VL - 48

SP - 598

EP - 623

JO - Developmental Psychology

JF - Developmental Psychology

SN - 0012-1649

IS - 3

ER -