Evaluating dual‐process theory of decision‐making in Chinese delinquent adolescents

Kei Yan POON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Dual-process theories have dominated the study of crime research and risk perception over the last two decades. However, no study to date has examined these combined approaches in research into delinquent youths. The current study aimed to address this issue by comparing cognitive and affective processes between Chinese delinquent and non-delinquent adolescents, and investigated whether variables of the two processes were correlated with each other and whether they predicted delinquent behaviours.
Method: Delinquent adolescents (n= 122, Mage= 15.3 years, SD= 1.2, 62 males, 60 females) were recruited from juvenile institutions, while typically developing controls (n= 129, Mage= 15.2 years, SD= 1.7, 59 males, 70 females) were recruited from local schools; all participants completed a cognitive appraisal questionnaire and a computerised gambling task. Teacher reports on delinquent behaviour were also collected.
Results: In cognitive decision-making, delinquent adolescents perceived more benefits, less risks, and a higher anticipated involvement in relation to risky events than non-delinquent adolescents. In affective decision-making, the delinquent group exhibited higher risk-taking and poorer vigilance in risk modulation than the non-delinquent group. Delinquent adolescents were also less likely to bet on the advantageous choice than their non-delinquent counterparts.
Conclusions: The current study provides a more encompassing picture of the divergent decision-making pathways associated with delinquent groups, allowing for better prevention and intervention programs that combine cognitive and behavioural components. Copyright © 2019 The Australian Psychological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-268
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number3
Early online date01 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


Poon, K. (2020). Evaluating dual‐process theory of decision‐making in Chinese delinquent adolescents. Australian Psychologist, 55(3), 257-268. doi: 10.1111/ap.12417


  • Adolescence
  • Impulsivity
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Offenders
  • Risk situations
  • Risk-taking


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