Men are said to be born risk takers. They are also more competitive. But does the company a man keeps affect his risk appetite? Researchers from University of Warwick and the University of Basel sought answers to this question using a game of gambling to measure the participants’ attitude towards risk. They found that even when partnered with children, men don’t curb their willingness to take a chance, whereas women do.
Researchers suggested this could be due to evolution. Men needed to be more competitive and risk-seeking to establish status and women more risk-averse to protect their offspring.
A second less surprising finding of the study was that men took more risks when partnered with other men— consistent with theories suggesting that men are driven to compete with other men to maximise their reproductive opportunities.
However, men did not increase their risk-taking behaviour when paired with a woman, a fact researchers believed was down to the co-operative design of the game where participants had to share their winnings with the partner.
This particular finding has parallels in the real world where studies have shown that men in committed relationships show less risky behaviour as they no longer need to compete with other males to gain a woman’s attention.
“Our attitudes to risk form a big part of our personality and determine our behaviour in all sorts of areas. For example how we approach financial investments or what leisure activities we indulge in,” Dr Thomas Hills of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick said.