Undergraduate researchers, Elizabeth DuPue and Judith Mildner, working with Nathan Spreng in the MRI facility in MVR.

Resources for Risk Reduction and Avoidance in Adolescence


New Approaches for Reducing Risk Taking

Valerie ReynaTo reduce adolescent risk taking, a different approach is needed: one that recognizes how adolescents reason. Research by Dr. Valerie Reyna sheds light on adolescent decision making and suggests new approaches for helping youth make good choices. Based on Reyna's research, the program aims to promote adolescent health. 

The project offers two interventions, which serve as control groups for each other. One, Gist-Enhanced Reducing the Risk (RTRgist) is targeted at reducing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and the other, EatFit, is targeted at promoting healthy eating and fitness. RTRgist is a research-based risk reduction program for high school students developed by Dr. Valerie Reyna. It is based on the latest developments in research on adolescent memory and decision making. RTRgist is a modified version of the Reducing the Risk curriculum previously identified as effective by the CDC. Reyna's research to test the new curriculum, funded by NIH, has shown that it is more effective across a broad array of outcomes. We are currently working with community partners to conduct additional research trials.

As one student in the RTR+ component at a Forest Hills, NYC site put it: "I wish we learned this stuff earlier because no one ever teaches us how to say no effectively and mean it."Another student in Ithaca, assigned to the Eatfit component said "this was the best health class ever. Because in our regular health class we never got the chance to do any activities like this!"

Reyna's Laboratory for Rational Decision Making

Select Resources on Risk Reduction and Avoidance in Adolescence

teens News on decision making research
Videos on Reyna's research
Book: The Neuroscience of Risky Decision Making
Book: The Adolescent Brain: Learning, Reasoning, and Decision Making
Search and Download Reyna Publications

References on Risk Reduction and Avoidance in Adolescence

Reyna, V. F., & Mills, B. A. (2014).  Theoretically motivated interventions for reducing sexual risktaking in adolescence: A randomized controlled experiment applying fuzzy-tracetheory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(4), 1627-1648. doi: 10.1037/a0036717

Reyna, V. F., Chick, C. F., Corbin, J.C., & Hsia, A. N. (2014). Developmental reversals in risky decision-making: Intelligence agents show larger decision biases than college students. Psychological Science, 25(1), 76-84. doi: 10.1177/0956797613497022

Reyna, V. F., & Zayas, V. (2014). The neuroscience of risky decision making. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association