The psychology of risk-taking

Wednesday, 29 August 2007
Boing Boing posted a really interesting post about the psychology of risk-taking. A new survey by researchers at University of Michigan suggest that just because somebody will take part in risky behaviour, doesn't mean that they will be risk takers in other areas of life.

The researchers surveyed participants to see their participation level for several different types of risky business including exposing yourself to chemicals that might lead to birth defects for a high-paying job, engaging in unprotected sex or chasing a bear out of your wilderness campsite area while banging pots and pans.

They found that somebody might go skydiving (which is risky) but not stand up to an abusive boss (also risky). The research shows that not all risk is created equal and people show a mixture of both risky and non-risky behaviours in their daily lives.

The research seems to go against common theories of risk that group people as either risk-seeking or risk-avoiding, and suggests that we can have a mix of both risky and non-risky behaviour depending who you are and what situation you are in.

They also found (to no surprise) that men were higher risk takers then woman.

Press Release
Research Paper (pdf)
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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