Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Risk-taking propensity changes, especially in young adulthood and in older age

29.01.2016

A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in collaboration with the University of Basel, Yale University, and the longitudinal German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study at DIW Berlin provides insights into how and in which domains people’s propensity to take risks changes with age. The results indicate that individual risk-taking propensity can be seen as a facet of personality that is subject to change. The study’s results have been published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and are available online as SOEPpaper No. 816.

Although the propensity to take risks on average decreases over the lifespan, it is particularly susceptible to change in young adulthood up to the age of about 30 and in older age from about 65 on. These findings emerged from a study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in collaboration with the University of Basel, Yale University, and the longitudinal German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study, which provided the data.

The study tracked change in individual risk-taking propensity over a period of up to 10 years in various domains of life. According to the researchers, these early and late phases of life are particularly likely to be marked by individual cognitive and biological change and by significant life events, such as marriage or retirement. This could in turn impact the individual stability of risk-taking propensity.

Changes in risk-taking propensity tend to be particularly pronounced in the domains of work and recreation. It is here that the willingness to take risks decreases most noticeably over the lifespan. In the social domain, in contrast, risk-taking preferences barely change at all with age, as was confirmed by a behavioral experiment conducted alongside the study. The experiment showed that our willingness to trust people we don’t know changes very little with age.

“One possible explanation is that, in contrast to the domains of work and recreation, the importance of the social domain stays the same across the lifespan or even increases in old age as social networks shrink,” says Anika Josef, lead author of the study and researcher at the Center for Adaptive Rationality in the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Overall, women are less prone to take risks than men in all domains and across the whole lifespan.

At the individual level, the researchers also analyzed how risk-taking propensity relates to the personality traits of openness to experience, agreeability, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion. They found that individual risk-taking propensity is associated with the traits of extraversion and openness to experience. “In other words, if someone becomes more open or more extraverted over the course of time, their willingness to take risks is also likely to increase – and vice versa,” explains co-author David Richter (SOEP).

“Risk-taking propensity can be seen as a personality trait that is subject to change over the life course. But the changes that occur may differ from one domain to the next,” adds co-author Rui Mata, Assistant Professor and head of the Center for Cognitive and Decision Sciences at the University of Basel. “It is also interesting that individual changes over time are associated with changes in known personality traits,” says Rui Mata.

The study drew on longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Specifically, the researchers analyzed data provided by 44,076 individuals from 18 to 85 years of age, 52% of them women, between 2004 and 2014. The respondents answered questions on their general risk-taking propensity at up to nine measurement points.

Additionally, 11,903 respondents rated their attitudes to risk in specific domains of life, such as finances, recreation, work, health, social interactions, and driving, up to three times. As well as using these self-report measures, the researchers conducted behavioral experiments with respondents from another SOEP subsample to assess risk-taking behavior and trust.

"It's too often assumed that risk taking changes dramatically with age based largely on generalizations and stereotypes about more cautious older individuals. Here we show with the largest study to date on the topic that these assumptions are unfounded," says Gregory Samanez-Larkin, co-author and Assistant Professor of Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Neuroscience at Yale University. “The findings are likely to inspire new research on topics that have so far received less attention, such as age differences in social decision making."


Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)
The Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) is a representative multi-cohort survey that has been running since 1984. The study is run at DIW Berlin, an institute of the Leibniz Association. Each year, some 30,000 individuals in almost 15,000 German households are surveyed by TNS Infratest Sozialforschung (Munich) in personal interviews. They provide information on topics such as their personal and political attitudes, income, employment history, education, and health. Because the same people are surveyed every year, it is possible to track long-term psychological, economic, societal, and social developments.

Original Publication
Josef, A. K., Richter, D., Samanez-Larkin, G. R., Wagner, G. G., Hertwig, R., & Mata, R. (2016). Stability and change in risk-taking propensity across the adult life span. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000090

SOEPpaper: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.525809.de/diw_sp0816.pdf

Max Planck Institute for Human Development
The Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin was founded in 1963. It is an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of human development and education. The Institute belongs to the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, one of the leading organizations for basic research in Europe.

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en/media/2016/01/risk-taking-propensity-changes-e...

Nicole Siller | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

Further reports about: Bildungsforschung Max-Planck-Institut SOEP

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>