Men not risk-averse in front of kids

April 18th, 2012 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 18 (IANS) Unlike women, men don’t curb certain risk-taking behaviours even in the presence of kids, says a new psychology study.

Women may be more cautious when they are partnered with small children, in a gambling game measuring their attitude to risk, men don’t substantially alter their willingness to take a chance.

Researchers suggested this could be due to evolutionary forces that select for men who are more competitive and risk-seeking in order to establish status and women who are more risk-averse in order to protect their offspring, the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour reports.

Scientists from Universities of Warwick and Basel (Switzerland) observed students playing a gambling game while alone and while paired with either an image of an attractive man, woman or baby with whom they imagined they would share their winnings, according to a Warwick statement.

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 in order 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 cooperative design of the game where participants shared their winnings with their partner.

Thomas Hills, psychologist at Warwick, said: “To our knowledge this is the first study to look directly at the effect of babies on male and female risk-taking.”

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