What makes a person exceptionally unreasonable

Why we are sometimes unreasonable

"Children get to know the world by trying things out," says the psychologist Jürg Frick from the Zurich University of Education. "You can only tell what was unreasonable from the reaction of others - or if it goes wrong." That is why teenagers in particular challenge their luck. In this regard, they often act more foolishly than children, as if they had stepped backwards in the use of reason. This is probably due to the uneven maturation of the various parts of our thinking organ. The reward system, which develops relatively late, matures faster during puberty than the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in deliberative thinking, keeps impulses in check and promotes prudent decision-making and planning.

This imbalance leads to an excessive willingness to take risks, which the "rest of the brain" cannot counter, believes the neurologist Kerstin Konrad from the Aachen University Hospital. Especially in emotionally charged situations, the reward system responsible for pleasure and motivation easily wins the upper hand.

Adolescents are not incapable of making rational decisions per se. Questionnaire studies suggest that they estimate many risks as well as adults. The mind breaks down especially when people of the same age are present. This was the result of experiments in which the participants should reach their destination as quickly and accident-free as possible in a virtual car race. If friends were watching, young people were much more likely to race over red lights and risk a crash. Social recognition is an extremely important incentive at this stage. Just why

According to one theory, the risky behavior in adolescence helps adolescents break away from the safe nest of the family in order to independently explore the world and look for a partner. However, the respective epoch and society have a major influence on what we consider sensible. “It is a privilege that adolescents can try things out so freely today,” explains Jürg Frick. “That has not always been the case in history.” Karl-Heinz Kohl, an ethnologist at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, adds that typical youthful behavior is also accepted in different cultures. In the case of indigenous peoples, for example, the wandering impulses of the offspring are usually more heavily sanctioned than in the West.

Maybe that's because a wild puberty is beneficial to capitalism: Many influential people of today danced out of line in their youth. Microsoft founder Bill Gates came into conflict with the law early on - as a young man he repeatedly committed traffic offenses. In 2013, researchers led by Martin Obschonka from the Queensland University of Technology used long-term data from 37 years to show that entrepreneurship and early rebellion are closely related. Men who had "eaten up" a lot in their youth were more likely to work as entrepreneurs later on. Admittedly, these were not capital crimes, but rather milder offenses such as skipping school, smoking weed and shoplifting. According to Obschonka, entrepreneurship is a productive form of breaking with conventions. Breaking rules early on can therefore train people to think outside the box.

Unreason is attractive

James Byron Dean drove women crazy in the 1950s. He only made three films and always played the rebel in them. The Hollywood legend embodied the revolt of youth against adult values. His style of clothing was also idiosyncratic: He didn't want to know anything about ties and cuff shirts, which determined men's fashion at the time. Always with you: the obligatory cigarette in the corner of your mouth. Hardly socially acceptable today, but - admittedly - kind of cool. The life of the icon of freedom and unreason came to an abrupt end when Dean had an accident with his sports car at the age of 24.