A Common Trait
Many adolescent brains find a way to rebel against everything, usually in a bid to discover new experiences or experiment in some way. That’s not the only behavior that peaks during our teenage years though, and prosocial behavior is also at a high. Prosocial behavior is when people try to be helpful. These two character traits are pretty much the polar opposites of each other, but they are linked by a third behavior common in both sets of people. The third trait is fun-seeking, and it’s common in both sets of people who are either rebellious or prosocial.
The study, conducted by the Leiden University in the Netherlands and The University of North Carolina, took 210 young people and studied them over four years. Every two years, the subjects conducted interviews focused on measuring their rebellious, prosocial, and fun-seeking behavior. The research discovered there was a correlation between those who did rebellious things like staying up late, smoking, or binging, with sacrificing your goals to help a friend. The common link was fun-seeking, as some teens see fun as taking risks, while others see it as helping the people around them.
Many of the people studied actually did both, which is perhaps why those rebels among us in our teens have developed a better sense of empathy. Not only were they out to take risks, but they were also more open to the idea of sacrifice their own happiness to help others.