Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Who takes risks?

Study reveals that risk-taking behavior of women and men, adolescents and adults, departs from assumptions related to gender and age

A forthcoming paper in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, by Bernd Figner, Research Scientist at the Center for Decision Sciences ( at Columbia Business School, and Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the University of Amsterdam; and Professor Elke Weber, Co-Director, Center for Decision Sciences and the Jerome A. Chazen Professor of International Business, Management at Columbia Business School, depicts that the reality of who takes risks and when goes beyond stereotypes. The paper reveals how adolescents can be as cool-headed as adults, and in some realms, women take more risks than men.

The researchers' discoveries challenge the assumption that women take fewer risks than men, and that adolescents do not consider consequences when making decisions. The study finds that men are willing to take more risks in finances. On the other hand, women take more social risks – examples include starting a new career in their mid-thirties or addressing an unpopular issue in a meeting at work.

The researchers believe that these differences derive from the different ways men and women perceive risks. Professor Weber explains, "That difference in perception may be partly because of how familiar men and women are with certain situations. If you have more experience with a risky situation, you may perceive it to be not as risky."

Adolescents are known for risky behaviors. However, when they think calmly about a situation in an experiment, adolescents can be just as cautious and careful as adults and children. One important difference between the lab and the real world is the extent to which a scenario involves emotion. In an experiment where adolescents' emotions were strongly triggered (with the Columbia Card Task, a gambling task in which they made stepwise decisions of increasing risk and got immediate feedback on how good or bad they were doing, a situation much closer to real-world incremental or dynamic risk decisions), they took bigger risks than children and adults, just as observed in real world settings.

"Emotion impacts decisions about risk-taking in all age groups, not just adolescents," Bernd Figner says. "And the emotion doesn't necessarily have to be triggered from the decision situation itself. For example, if you're angry about an argument, you might later drive too fast on the highway."

The researchers aim to understand when and how people take risks, in order to help people avoid risky decisions that they may regret.

About Columbia Business School

Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School is at the forefront of management education for a rapidly changing world. The school's cutting-edge curriculum bridges academic theory and practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset to recognize and capture opportunity in a competitive business environment. Beyond academic rigor and teaching excellence, the school offers programs that are designed to give students practical experience making decisions in real-world environments. The school offers MBA and Executive MBA (EMBA) degrees, as well as non-degree Executive Education programs. For more information, visit

About Current Directions in Psychological Science

Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, publishes concise reviews on the latest advances in theory and research spanning all of scientific psychology and its applications.

Sona Rai | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Business School Business Vision MBA Psychological Science

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>