Individuals learn which of their actions are likely to be rewarded through trial and error. This form of learning is critical for adapting to new situations, which adolescents frequently encounter. Adolescents are also greatly influenced by their peers. The current study tested the extent to which adolescents rely on peer advice to guide their actions. Adolescent and young adult participants completed a probabilistic learning task in which they chose between four pairs of stimuli with different reinforcement probabilities, with one stimulus in each pair more frequently rewarded. Participants received advice about two of these pairs, once from a similarly aged peer and once from an older adult. Crucially, this advice was inaccurate, enabling the dissociation between experience-based and instruction-based learning. Adolescents and adults learned equally well from experience and no age group difference was evident in the overall influence of advice on choices. Surprisingly, when considering the source of advice, there was no evident influence of peer advice on adolescent choices. However, both adolescents and adults were biased toward choosing the stimulus recommended by the older adult. Contrary to conventional wisdom, these data suggest that adolescents may prioritize the advice of older adults over that of peers in certain decisionmaking contexts.
Lourenc, F. S., Decker, J. H., Pedersen, G. A., Dellarco, D. V., Casey, B. J., & Hartley, C. A. (2015). Consider the source: Adolescents and adults similarly follow older adult advice more than peer advice. PLoS ONE, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128047