Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Wolff

Second Advisor

Dr. Jody Nicholson-Bell

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange

College Dean

Dr. George Rainbolt


Adolescence and young adulthood are the periods of development associated with the highest amount of risk-taking. One theory, the Dual-Systems model, suggests that this could be due to an imbalance in the maturation of two brain systems: reward appraisal, which matures first, and cognitive control, which matures later. This imbalance may be the cause of adolescents’ tendency to favor immediate rewards, disregarding consequences. Depressed adolescents, however, behave differently. While it is not exactly clear whether they take more risks or fewer risks, depressed adolescents display different interactions and decision making with their peers than non-depressed adolescents. This study attempted to use these patterns of behavior already identified in previous research to predict where an adolescent would fall on a depression continuum based on their Self-Focused and Other-Focused risk behaviors. Results did not find a link between depression and either type of risk. Results may be inconclusive due to issues within the data and data collection process.