Teens are impulsive; they don't think

June 4, 2007 at 8:22 AM
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AMES, Iowa, June 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher says that one of the biggest reasons teens are so hard to figure out is because there is an impulsive element to their behavior.

Meg Gerrard, an Iowa State University psychology professor, says her series of studies over the last dozen years were specifically designed to discover how a teenager makes decisions.

"What's novel about this research is that we've demonstrated that quite a bit of adolescent decision-making is not reasoned on -- on any level," Gerrard said in a statement. "Parents ask kids, 'What were you thinking?' and they say, 'I don't know.' And they really don't know what they were thinking."

Gerrard presented her findings to the Association of Psychological Science's annual convention in Washington.

"From a kid's perspective, if you're operating in this more reasoned, thoughtful mode -- then you have the proverbial devil and the angel over your shoulder," she said. "If you're operating in the more experiential mode, you don't even know the angel is there. Those things are not in your mind at all, and the devil's only saying, 'This could be interesting.'"

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