Faculty Publications


Confirmation of a Reconceptualized Definition and Measure of Adolescent Risk Behavior: Adolescent Viewpoints

Document Type



adolescents, positive psychology, prosocial risk behavior, risk behavior

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Adolescent Research


The goal of this project was to substantiate a more positive conceptualization of adolescent risk behavior and to compare adolescent viewpoints of risk behavior to the items on the Prosocial and Health Adolescent Risk Behavior Scale (PHARBS). A total of 57 high school students participated in the research. Researchers recruited students from an Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology course at a large Midwestern high school. The high school serves approximately 1,750 students in grades 9 through 12. The university Institutional Review Board approved the study procedures. Families provided informed consent, and students assented to participating in one of eight focus group discussions. The focus groups were audio taped, transcribed, and coded. Researchers analyzed the coded data using word count analysis. Students discussed prosocial risk behaviors in addition to health risk behaviors, providing support for the PHARBS and suggesting that adolescents view taking some risks as positive. A more positive conceptualization of risk behavior may better align with how adolescents view risk behavior. Researchers and clinicians might approach adolescent risk behavior measurement and research on the importance of understanding risk behaviors as a normal and potentially positive aspect of adolescent development.


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version