Other Youth Topics

Adolescent Decision-Making Research

Adolescent Decision-Making Call for Research

In 2019 the American Institutes for Research (AIR) issued a Call for Manuscript Proposals for work on an initiative funded under a contract issued by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) to support the work of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). The specific focus of this call for manuscript proposals was on topics related to adolescent and young adult decision-making especially with regard to recognized risk behaviors and the implications of this decision-making for decisions about family planning, healthy relationships, sexual activity and general reproductive health.


Recent discoveries in brain development offer new insights into how the adolescent brain works. Through imaging, neuroscientists have identified two networks in the frontal lobe of the brain that impact adolescent behavior and choices. The emotional network dominates the cognitive network during adolescence impacting two factors important in contraceptive use and pregnancy prevention — planning and risk assessment. During adolescence, the cognitive network that governs planning, thinking ahead, and self-regulation matures gradually. Under normal conditions, the cognitive network can regulate the social/emotional network. However, when the social/emotional network is highly activated, they do not work together. The emotional network dominates the cognitive network. The result is that emotion, rather than reason, often influences adolescent decision-making.


The following infographic summarizes the manuscripts completed through this call for proposals. The manuscripts are categorized into three areas related to sexual decision-making: family relationships; community and environmental influences; and adverse childhood experiences, mental health, and emotional regulation. Click on the red, yellow, and blue circles below to read the abstracts of the research conducted for each category in response to the Call for Manuscripts.

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