Hillary Smith

Date of Award

January 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John-Paul Legerski


Risk-taking behaviors emerge, increase, and peak during adolescence and have shown to continue into late adolescence. Research has begun to explore how some forms of risk-taking may be normative and adaptive. The aim of this study is to look at how social, academic, and occupational functioning are related to risk-behaviors, as measured by risk-favorability and reported risk-taking history, and emotional adjustment in a college sample (N=314). Risk was assessed using self-report and an implicit task, both of which were moderately correlated. Both risk measures were negatively correlated with self-report measures of adaptive functioning and emotional adjustment.A series of mediation analyses were performed to evaluate whether risk-taking behaviors may mediate the relationship between emotional adjustment and adaptive functioning. Risk-taking and emotional adjustment measures were both negatively correlated with adaptive functioning outcomes; however, in each of the mediation analyses the association between risk-favorability and adaptive functioning was not statistically significant when accounting for emotional adjustment. These findings suggest that emotional adjustment may be a stronger predictor of poor adaptive functioning outcomes than risk-taking.