human development and the brain

3/13/2020 PSY105 & PSY101 – Page 3.19 – Helping Teens Make Decisions (Part 3 of 3)… 1/5


Investigation Helping Teens Make Decisions (Part 3 of 3)

For this three-part investigation, you’ll apply concepts of brain function and development to the issue of teen decision making.

3 Personality and Human Development / Page 3.19 Investigation: Helping Teens Make Decisions (Part 3 of 3) On this page: 6 of 6 attempted (100%) | 6 of 6 correct (100%) You have 1 reset remaining for the multiple-choice questions on this page. Objective: Apply what you’ve learned about development and the brain to help teens make decisions.

Teenagers still benefit from their parents’ guidance when faced with risky decisions. Parents can help navigate this process if they understand teen psychology and


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Apply What You’ve Learned

Apply what you have learned about human development and the brain to answer the questions on the case study below.

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Ava is an outgoing and fun-loving 16-year-old who is generally a responsible student. When she went to her first high-school party, which was hosted by a popular senior, she expected it to be fun. But the party was more wild than she ever thought it would be. Ava, who had never drunk any alcohol before this party, had learned about the dangers of drinking too much alcohol from health class, her parents, and TV shows. Still, although she is normally a “good kid,” she gave in to peer pressure to play a drinking game that involved beer and multiple types of liquor. Although she got quite drunk, she fortunately did not make any other risky decisions that night. The worst result of her drinking was that her parents grounded her for 2 months. Now, 3 months later, Ava is asking her parents if she can go to another party, and they are not sure what they should do.

Multiple-Choice Question

We can partially explain Ava’s desire to fit in at the party by recognizing that she is in which of the following psychosocial stages identified by Erik Erikson?

autonomy vs. shame and doubt integrity vs. despair identity vs. role confusion trust vs. mistrust

Correct. Erikson identified adolescence as a time when we seek to define our sense of self—our identity—or risk becoming confused about our role in our own life. Because Ava is 16, she is exploring her role as a “good kid” who also wants to have fun with her peers.

Last saved 2 months ago. Multiple-Choice Question

Based on what you’ve learned about teen brain development, why did Ava decide to participate in the drinking game even though she knew the risks?

Her brain is not capable of truly understanding the potential harm of consuming so much alcohol. Ava’s prefrontal cortex prevents her from making a voluntary decision.

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Her brain is very sensitive to the presence of her peers and the potential social rewards. Her brain is incapable of making rational decisions.

Correct. When they are in a social situation, teenagers give more weight to potential rewards of risky behavior than they give to the negative consequences.

Last saved 2 months ago. Multiple-Choice Question

Which area of Ava’s brain is still developing and can partially explain why she drank at the party despite knowing the risks?

prefrontal cortex motor cortex occipital lobes somatosensory cortex

Correct. The prefrontal cortex is considered the CEO of the brain and is responsible for executive functions such as organization, planning, and decision making. Because Ava’s prefrontal cortex is still developing, these skills are also still developing, making her likely to still make risky decisions.

Last saved 2 months ago. Multiple-Choice Question

Based on the information in the case study, Ava would likely score high on which Big Five personality trait? (Review page 3.12.)

heritability extraversion instability neuroticism

Correct. People who score high on the Big Five trait of extraversion are very social, outgoing, and fun-loving, which is how Ava is described.

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Last saved 2 months ago. Multiple-Choice Question

Ava is described as a “good kid” who is usually conscientious. Does her behavior at the party indicate that her personality has now changed?

No—the situational factors influenced her behavior, and judgment of personality cannot be made in one situation. Yes—if she were to take a personality test, she would now score lower on conscientiousness than the week before the party. Yes—her behavior in this situation predicts a life of risk taking and delinquency. No—Ava’s personality traits will remain stable and unchanging for the rest of her life no matter the situation.

Correct. Personality is relatively stable and consistent on average, and Ava will most likely continue to be conscientious in most situations. However, our behavior can be inconsistent across situations, especially when we face social demands such as peer pressure.

Last saved 2 months ago. Multiple-Choice Question

Based on what you’ve learned about teenage brain development, which of the following options would be the BEST way for Ava’s parents to approach the current issue—whether they should let Ava attend the next party?

Remind Ava of how disappointed they are in most of her decisions before she leaves for the party. Help Ava develop some specific phrases and behaviors that she can use when faced with risky decisions at parties. Allow Ava to go to parties and make mistakes so that she can learn from them and make better decisions next time. Forbid Ava to attend any social events until her prefrontal cortex is fully developed.

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Correct. If teens already have an idea of what to do or say in a potentially risky situation, they are more likely to feel confident in making a good decision. This type of discussion also helps teens develop the ability to self-regulate.

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