Dr. Cavanagh's latest article, titled "Adolescents' adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic" was recently published in Child: Care, Heath, and Development. Why do teens, who are developmentally prone to risky behavior, follow CDC guidelines?
Among a sample of youth from families at high risk for COVID (i.e., Hispanic/
Latino, low-SES Texans), we found that psychosocially mature teens (compared to psychosocially immature teens) were more likely to report following CDC guidelines. This relation was mediated by the perception that those guidelines were important for keeping themselves and others safe.
Adolescents’ cognitive capacities develop faster than their impulse control. Thus, explaining the “why” behind potentially unpleasant guidelines engages youth cognitively rather than emotionally, and could improve psychosocially-immature adolescents' adherence to health guidelines.