Understanding adolescent risk taking behaviour: exploring the motivations, personalities and coping styles of young people in a school based population

Nicola Cogan, Matthias Schwannauer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Adolescence can be a challenging developmental period, often characterised by experimentation, impulsivity, curiosity and uncertainty, making it heightened potential for risk taking behaviour. A large scale cross-sectional study of a school based population (n = 407) was employed to test the relations between personality (telic and paratelic dominance), coping style (i.e., productive, non-productive and reference to others) and engagement in health risk behaviours (i.e., violence, sadness and suicidality; substance misuse and physical inactivity). Analysis indicated that adolescents with high scores of negativistic dominance strongly predicted engagement in health risk behaviours. Adolescents with high scores on productive coping style and reference to others and low scores on non-productive coping style were less likely to engage in health risk behaviours. Coping style was found to mediate the relationship between state dominance and violence, sadness and suicidality, while a mediation effect was not found for substance misuse or physical inactivity. Clinical and health promotion interventions would benefit from tailoring messages to reflect the process linking personality, coping styles and health risk behaviours among young people. Interventions that promote adaptive outlets for positive risk taking behaviours and emphasise the importance of productive coping skills may be more likely to reduce adolescents' engagement in health compromising behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersonality Stress and Coping
Subtitle of host publicationImplications for Education
EditorsGretchen M. Reevy, Erica Frydenberg
Place of PublicationCharlotte, NC
Pages91-110
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011

Keywords

  • adolescent behavior
  • adolescent children
  • risk taking behaviour
  • coping style
  • personality

Cite this

Cogan, N., & Schwannauer, M. (2011). Understanding adolescent risk taking behaviour: exploring the motivations, personalities and coping styles of young people in a school based population. In G. M. Reevy, & E. Frydenberg (Eds.), Personality Stress and Coping: Implications for Education (pp. 91-110).