We Now Have Scientific Proof That Teens Are Impulsive Weirdos

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Since we cannot be content just to let teens live, we must research them. Here’s the latest: A new study has revealed that adolescent minds are not yet ready to “perform when the stakes are high.” Wow. Who could have seen this conclusion coming?


This isn’t news to me, someone who throws a frisbee while yelling “HEAD’S UP” at random teens all day. They wouldn’t know the importance of a game of Ultimate Fris if it smacked them in the face, which it literally does. But the BBC reports that researchers at Harvard University were excited to “discover” that most teens don’t know how to amp up their performance when something serious is on the line: money.

Young people, aged 13 to 20, were brain scanned while they played a computer game.

They played for high stakes, when they could earn $1 for correct responses or lose 50 cents for incorrect responses, and for low stakes, when they could earn 20 cents or lose 10 cents.

Slightly older teens were able to improve their gaming when the money incentive was higher, according to lead researcher Katie Insel. Younger ones couldn’t.

“These findings demonstrate that brain connectivity continues to develop across adolescence,” said Insel. “This means that as teens age, they become better at adjusting brain connectivity across motivational contexts, which in turn allows them to do better when working towards a high-value goal.”

Or maybe when you’re 13, putting cash in your pocket isn’t as big a deal. By the time you’re 16 or 17, you don’t want to rely on your parents anymore for your allowance. You may have also discovered sex and drugs, both of which are easier to come by when you have money. Try incentivizing those lazy little succubi with something they actually want, like a high five from a Sprouse twin. That’s a high stakes carrot both children and adults can be lured by.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin


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