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Consider the insurance industry. The way insurance works is like this: I pay a life insurance company $1,000 a year for 10 years. If I die in those ten years, my family gets $500,000. If I don't, nothing happens (except I'm out $10,000). The insurance company has studied the statistics of life and death very closely, of course. So they know with great precision that the probability of my dying in those ten years is much less than 1 out 50. Let's say it's 1 out of 100. So if they make this same deal with 100 customers, 99 will pay premiums for ten years and 1 will die and his family will collect $500,000. The insurance company will collect 99 x $10,000 = $990,000 in premiums and pay out $500,000, for a net profit of $490,000. Sweet! But here's the thing. Everyone KNOWS that the insurance company is charging you way more than the "fair" price of the insurance. (The fair price is the price that would end up with the insurance company not making any money. In this case, it would be $505.05 per year, not $1,000.) So why do people, nevertheless, still gladly buy insurance? It's clearly a psychological thing: people fear big surprise losses more than very predictable small losses, even when the latter add up to less than the former. Nor is that dumb: it's much easier to cope with predictable losses than surprise losses. So "price" in terms of risk can have a strong element of how predictable the risk is. And as a consequence some of the wealthiest companies around are insurance companies.
So, swimmergirl, have you hit upon a topic? The general question is so intriguing -- for don't we face this same issue repeatedly in our lives? -- I thought about it all afternoon yesterday.
:) sadly I have not thought of an idea.....well I guess I have thought about doing something about peer pressure in our teen population....
That's a rich topic. You ought to find quite a lot to write about with respect to risk. To weighing the risks against the benefits. Do teens sometimes do things without considering the full risk? Or do the risks (and fear of the outcome, or recognition of a possible bad outcome) simply not stand up against the pressure of doing what others want or ask us to do, particularly at that age?
so I'm guessing that that is a good topic :D could you possibly find some information about that topic for me?
You might start by reading a book called _The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us About Our Kids_, by Barbara Strauch. It's an easy, easy read. Very accessible, lots of stories. You can look at the book's table of contents and the first few pages on Amazon. You could also search in the book there for the word "risk" and see what comes up. If you want a taste of what it is she covers, check out this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkxOssfmnaY. It runs nearly a half an hour, and it's a full interview of the author. I've not seen the whole interview -- I just found it now. But I did read the book a couple of years back, and although I think she needs an editor (there's some serious repetition in the book that could have been trimmed), it's pretty darn interesting. The studies she talks about might change your whole attitude toward risk, give you the larger picture, particularly with respect to brain development in the teenage years. She is *not* writing primarily about risk-taking behavior by any means, but risk-taking is very much a part of our lives then. Some of it is good, some bad. Why is it that teens seem not to see the risks inherent in a particular action that adults perceive readily? It used to be thought that teens did not understand the risk. The newer thinking, in some quarters, is that the risk can seem more remote, the pressure more salient. What your friends want you to do is more important at that age than the possible consequences. But why, why particularly at that age? Why is it that teens seem to seek out risk, thrive on risk? Strauch talks about what we have come to understand just recently about the brain in those years, how much it is developing, something of the ways in which it is developing, and -- which might tie right in to whatever you write on -- the way in which risk at that age is actually necessary for proper brain growth. If you are at all interested in this approach, you might find it a fruitful place to start.
:) thank you!!! This will get me started :)
Criminal statistics may be of use. There are many people, especially teens, paying dearly for their mistakes. Does the punishment fit the crime? What sort of mistakes are made by the various subgroups? Hospital statistics may give an even bleaker picture but some equally interesting topics.
Yes, well, and then you begin to get into the social aspects of crime and the criminal justice (or not always so just) system. Kids from poorer families, from troubled families, the more so if they are also kids of color, don't fare as well in this system, either from the perspective of the opportunities not so available to them (at home, at school, in life) or from the perspective of how the system tends to view and treat them. The issue is very thorny. Here's one that leaves out the criminal system: what about teen pregnancy? What about STDs? What price do the teens pay when the adults who govern their lives decide *not* to educate them about how to protect themselves? "Just say no" doesn't work in this realm any more than it does in the other. Of course, that one's a loaded issue.
It may be a loaded one and it needs to be discharged. Saying no and believing the "authority" that backs such a stance can lead to all sorts of problems. If "they" lied to me about that, where do I find the truth? etc The price can be the breakdown of families and groups/societies, but the price may not come due for many years. How risky is it to trust in faith? ...... to believe in our parents/authority? Please let the group know where you go with this. Cheers
Hey, swimmergirl, here's a short article that's right up your alley -- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203806504577181351486558984.html A few key paragraphs (but they expand in meaning if read in the context of the whole article) -- Recent studies in the neuroscientist B.J. Casey's lab at Cornell University suggest that adolescents aren't reckless because they underestimate risks, but because they overestimate rewards—or, rather, find rewards more rewarding than adults do. The reward centers of the adolescent brain are much more active than those of either children or adults. Think about the incomparable intensity of first love, the never-to-be-recaptured glory of the high-school basketball championship. What teenagers want most of all are social rewards, especially the respect of their peers. In a recent study by the developmental psychologist Laurence Steinberg at Temple University, teenagers did a simulated high-risk driving task while they were lying in an fMRI brain-imaging machine. The reward system of their brains lighted up much more when they thought another teenager was watching what they did—and they took more risks. From an evolutionary point of view, this all makes perfect sense. One of the most distinctive evolutionary features of human beings is our unusually long, protected childhood. Human children depend on adults for much longer than those of any other primate. That long protected period also allows us to learn much more than any other animal. But eventually, we have to leave the safe bubble of family life, take what we learned as children and apply it to the real adult world. Becoming an adult means leaving the world of your parents and starting to make your way toward the future that you will share with your peers. Puberty not only turns on the motivational and emotional system with new force, it also turns it away from the family and toward the world of equals.