Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Elizabeth Jones (Director), Amy Brausch, Reagan Brown

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


Risk taking (RT) and self-harm (SH) are clinically, conceptually, and empirically
related, yet separate constructs, which occur most frequently during adolescence. The current study utilized retrospective reports of college students to determine reported ages of engagement in RT and SH behaviors. Reported ages were compared with predictions for ages of high frequency engagement in RT based on the Dual Systems Model of Adolescent Risk Taking (DSMART; Steinberg, 2010). The sample consisted of 228 college students, ranging in age from 18 to 48 years (mean 22.8), who completed a survey of commonly investigated RT (12 items) and SH (18 items) behaviors. A positive correlation between the RT and SH scales supported a relationship between RT and SH, as predicted. The mean ages of engagement reported for both RT and SH behaviors were significantly higher than the ages predicted by the DSMART. However, the mean ages of engagement varied significantly by behavior grouping (RT, SH), and by subgroups within each behavior group. The NSSI subgroup of SH and the Situational subgroup of RT were noted to have the lowest mean age of high frequency engagement at the subgroup and behavior item level. A relationship between RT and SH was supported and information regarding ages of engagement in RT relative to ages of engagement in SH in the sample provided a further basis for understanding the emergence of these behaviors. The findings are discussed with regard to the DSMART and the relationship between RT and SH behaviors


Cognition and Perception | Developmental Psychology | Personality and Social Contexts | Psychology