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

  title={The evolutionary basis of risky adolescent behavior: implications for science, policy, and practice.},
  author={Bruce J. Ellis and Marco Del Giudice and Thomas J. Dishion and Aurelio Jos{\'e} Figueredo and Peter Gray and Vladas Griskevicius and Patricia H. Hawley and W. Jake Jacobs and Jen{\'e}e James and Anthony A. Volk and David Sloan Wilson},
  journal={Developmental psychology},
  volume={48 3},
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… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Adolescence is an evolutionarily-preserved developmental stage which is characterized by dramatic physical, hormonal, neurological, and behavioral changes. One of the basic characteristics of
Integrating the Human Sciences to Evolve Effective Policies.
The Development and Ecology of Antisocial Behavior: Linking Etiology, Prevention, and Treatment
This chapter provides an overview of findings about the development of antisocial behavior from early childhood through young adulthood. Consistent with a developmental psychopathology framework,
Adolescent decision making: A decade in review.
  • G. Icenogle, E. Cauffman
  • Psychology
    Journal of research on adolescence : the official journal of the Society for Research on Adolescence
  • 2021
This review article summarizes several themes evident in the field of developmental science including the redefinition of adolescence and the ways in which adolescent decision-making capabilities converge with or diverge from those of adults.
Understanding Risk‐Taking Behavior: Insights from Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary developmental psychology posits that natural selection has operated across the lifespan, but especially in childhood, shaping psychological mechanisms that foster survival during the
Applying an Evolutionary Approach of Risk-Taking Behaviors in Adolescents
Risk-taking behaviors in adolescents have traditionally been analyzed from a psychopathological approach, with an excessive emphasis on their potential costs. From evolutionary theory we propose that
Mechanisms That Link Parenting Practices to Adolescents’ Risky Sexual Behavior: A Test of Six Competing Theories
Investigation of the mediators that link parenting experiences during early adolescence to subsequent risky sexual behaviors among a diverse sample of African American youth revealed that supportive parenting emerged as the parenting behavior most influential with regard to adolescents’ risky sexual behavior.


A Social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk-Taking.
Time perspective as a mechanism for functional developmental adaptation.
Evolutionary Life History Theory (LHT) is a powerful framework that can be used for understanding behavioral strategies as functional adaptations to environmental conditions. Some evolutionary
Evolution, stress, and sensitive periods: the influence of unpredictability in early versus late childhood on sex and risky behavior.
Results show that unpredictable rather than merely harsh childhood environments exert unique effects on risky behavior later in life consistent with a faster life history strategy, and suggest that there is a developmentally sensitive period for assessing environmental unpredictability during the first 5 years of life.
Childhood experience, interpersonal development, and reproductive strategy: and evolutionary theory of socialization.
The concept of "reproductive strategy" drawn from the field of behavioral ecology is applied to the study of childhood experience and interpersonal development in order to develop an evolutionary
If, When, and Why Adolescent Bullying Is Adaptive
Adolescent bullying appears to be a cross-cultural, worldwide phenomenon. A substantial literature has addressed this phenomenon due to the important implications bullying presents for adolescents.
Effects of Harsh and Unpredictable Environments in Adolescence on Development of Life History Strategies
It is suggested that the environmental parameters of harshness and unpredictability have concurrent effects on life history development in adolescence, as well as longitudinal effects into young adulthood, and life history traits appear to be stable across developmental time from adolescence intoYoung adulthood.
Bio-psycho-social perspectives on interpersonal violence
Aggression, risk-taking & alternative life-history strategies: The behavioral ecology of social deviance Executive functions, attention & juvenile delinquency A study of personality traits in
Beyond cumulative risk: distinguishing harshness and unpredictability as determinants of parenting and early life history strategy.
Structural equation modeling provided empirical support for Ellis et al.'s (2009) theorizing, calling attention once again to the contribution of evolutionary analysis to understanding contemporary human parenting and development.
When interventions harm. Peer groups and problem behavior.
Development and intervention evidence relevant to iatrogenic effects in peer-group interventions are explored and it is proposed that peer aggregation during early adolescence, under some circumstances, inadvertently reinforces problem behavior.