Adolescents experience a marked change in their evaluation of fairness, trust, and reciprocity that leads to more altruistic behavior and tendencies that are oriented toward others. In this article, I highlight advances in brain imaging research to focus on how adolescents make social decisions. Using the Ultimatum Game and the Trust Game as examples, I show that adolescents are relatively focused on the self in early adolescence, with impulse control and perspective taking increasing in later adolescence and early adulthood. These changes are accompanied by a shift in the relative contribution of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, a region important for self-referential processing, to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporal-parietal junction, regions important for controlling selfish impulses and perspective taking. This shift in balance may tip adolescents toward more self-oriented choices in early adolescence and allow them to consider consequences for others in later adolescence.

adolescence, fairness, trust, social development,
Child Development Perspectives

Crone, E.A.M. (2013). Considerations of fairness in the adolescent brain. Child Development Perspectives, 7(2), 97–103. doi:10.1111/cdep.12022