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Mapping the ecology of risk taking: A test of the generalizability of the construct risk preference to real-life behaviors

Applicant Frey Renato
Number 174042
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Cognitive and Decision Sciences Fakultät für Psychologie Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021
Approved amount 299'872.00
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Keywords (5)

risk preference; risk attitude; risk taking; ecological assessments; predictive modeling

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Risikopräferenz wird als ein grundlegender Baustein von menschlichem Verhalten angesehen. Doch wie generalisierbar ist (durch Fragebogen oder Verhaltenstests) gemessene Risikopräferenz auf Risikoentscheidungen im Alltag?
Lay summary
Menschen unterscheiden sich stark in ihrer Risikopräferenz, was sich z.B. in unvorteilhaften Finanzentscheidungen, Glücksspiel, Substanzmissbrauch, und riskanten Entscheidungen im Freizeitbereich oder bezüglich der Gesundheit ausdrücken kann. Risikopräferenz kann deshalb den Verlauf einzelner Menschenleben substantiell beeinflussen, hat aber auch Konsequenzen für die Gesellschaft (Prä- und Intervention). Deshalb wurden verschiedene Instrumente entwickelt, um Risikopräferenz systematisch messen.

Bis vor Kurzem war aber unklar, ob die verschiedenen Instrumente alle tatsächliche das gleiche Konstrukt "Risikopräferenz" messen, und wie reliabel diese Messungen über die Zeit hinweg bleiben. Mit einer umfangreichen Studie, in der 1,507 Personen 39 Messinstrumente bearbeiten haben, konnten wir substantielle Fortschritte bezüglich dieser Fragen machen.

Erstaunlicherweise gibt es aber nach wie vor kaum Forschung zu den tatsächlichen Risikoentscheidungen, die Menschen im Alltag treffen – obwohl die moderne Welt mit den technologischen, ökonomischen, und gesellschaftlichen Entwicklungen ganz neue Risiken und Möglichkeiten mit sich bringt. Während wir nun also relativ gut verstehen, wie man Risikoeinstellung messen kann, wissen wir vergleichsweise wenig darüber, welche "Kriterien" im Alltag diese Messinstrumente überhaupt vorhersagen sollten.

In einem ersten Teilprojekt werden wir deshalb das Risikoverhalten im modernen Leben erfassen (mit repräsentativen Studien und mobilen Assessments per Smartphone); in einem zweiten Schritt werden wir offene Fragen zur Messung von Risikopräferenz adressieren; und in einem dritten Schritt werden wir testen, wie gut das Konstrukt Risikopräferenz Verhalten im Alltag vorhersagen kann.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.11.2017

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Representative design in psychological assessment: A case study using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART)
SteinerMarkus, FreyRenato (2020), Representative design in psychological assessment: A case study using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), in PsyArXiv, 1.
Towards a typology of risk preference: Four risk profiles describe two thirds of individuals in a large sample of the U.S. population
FreyRenato, ShannonDuncan, WeberElke (2020), Towards a typology of risk preference: Four risk profiles describe two thirds of individuals in a large sample of the U.S. population, in PsyArXiv, 1.
Through the window of my mind: Mapping the cognitive processes underlying self-reported risk preference
Steiner Markus, Florian Seitz, Frey Renato (2019), Through the window of my mind: Mapping the cognitive processes underlying self-reported risk preference, in PsyArXiv, 1.
Decisions from experience: Competitive search and choice in kind and wicked environments
Frey Renato, Decisions from experience: Competitive search and choice in kind and wicked environments, in Judgment and Decision Making.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Elke U. Weber (Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment), Princeton University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Workshop: Cognitive Perspectives on Behavior Talk given at a conference Representative Design in Psychological Assessment: A Case Study Using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) 28.11.2019 Basel, Switzerland Steiner Markus;
SJDM Conference Poster Towards a typology of risk preference: Four risk profiles describe two thirds of individuals in a large sample of the U.S. population 15.11.2019 Montreal, Canada Frey Renato;
SJDM Conference Poster Mapping the cognitive processes underlying self-reported risk-taking propensity 15.11.2019 Montreal, Canada Steiner Markus;
CDS Annual Event (University of Basel) Talk given at a conference 5G: Modeling risk peception and change in the Swiss general public 27.09.2019 Basel, Switzerland Frey Renato;
SPUDM Conference Talk given at a conference Identifying robust correlates of risk preference: A systematic approach using specification curve analysis 21.08.2019 Amsterdam, Netherlands Frey Renato;
SPUDM Conference Poster Mapping the cognitive processes underlying self-reported risk-taking propensity 21.08.2019 Amsterdam, Netherlands Steiner Markus;
INFORMS Advances in Decision Analysis Individual talk Risk preference shares the psychometric structure of major psychological traits 20.06.2019 Milano, Italy Frey Renato;
Seminar at the School of Management, Politecnico Milano Individual talk A psychological perspective on the construct of risk preference 18.06.2019 Milano, Italy Frey Renato;
Conference of Experimental Psychologists TEAP Talk given at a conference Mapping the cognitive processes underlying self-reported risk-taking propensity 17.04.2019 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Steiner Markus;
Colloquium at Princeton University Individual talk Modeling risk-taking propensity to identify unique types of risk-takers 25.03.2019 Princeton, United States of America Frey Renato;
SWE PhD Conference Talk given at a conference Mapping the cognitive processes underlying self-reported risk-taking propensity 01.02.2019 Basel, Switzerland Steiner Markus;
SJDM Conference Poster Identifying robust correlates of risk preference: A systematic approach using specification curve analysis 16.11.2018 New Orleans, United States of America Frey Renato;
Colloquium at Columbia University Individual talk The measurement of risk preference and its impact in a world full of risk and uncertainty 16.10.2018 New York, United States of America Frey Renato;
Colloquium at Princeton University Individual talk The measurement of risk preference and its impact in a world full of risk and uncertainty 11.10.2018 Princeton, United States of America Frey Renato;
RiskDynamics DFG Research Unit Meeting Individual talk Risk preference shares the psychometric structure of major psychological traits 20.06.2018 Konstanz, Germany Frey Renato;
Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality Talk given at a conference Beyond “risk preference”? Towards a general model of risk-taking behavior 19.06.2018 Berlin, Germany Steiner Markus;
JDMx Conference Talk given at a conference Beyond "risk preference"? Towards a more general model of risk-taking behavior 06.06.2018 Konstanz, Germany Steiner Markus;
Bernoulli Workshop for the Behavioral Sciences Talk given at a conference A systematic approach using specification curve analysis 18.05.2018 Basel, Switzerland Frey Renato;
Centre for Decision Research Seminar Individual talk Risk preference shares the psychometric structure of major psychological traits 07.03.2018 Leeds, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Frey Renato;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Norming the assessment of risk preference (Deutsche Industrienorm; DIN) Talk 25.11.2019 Berlin, Germany Frey Renato;
Baloise Insurance Workshop Talk 01.11.2018 Basel, Switzerland Frey Renato;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Schafft die 5G-Studie des Bundes Klarheit? SRF German-speaking Switzerland 2019

Abstract

The construct of risk preference is considered to be a key building block of human behavior (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979; Savage, 1954). It may shape everyday decision making and is assumed to be particularly expressed in maladaptive or clinical behaviors such as impaired financial decision making, gambling, substance use, and taking excessive risks in recreational activities or regarding one’s health (Allen, Reinert, & Volk, 2001; Brodbeck, Duerrenberger, & Znoj, 2009; Frydman & Camerer, 2016; Lejuez et al., 2002; Skinner, 1982; Weber, Blais, & Betz, 2002). As individuals’ risk preferences have the potential to influence the course of entire lives, with according consequences for society (e.g., in terms of pre- or intervention; Caspi et al., 2016), the assessment of risk preference has been a focal research topic for decades. Yet, even though a plethora of different risk-taking measures has been developed (Appelt, Milch, Handgraaf, & Weber, 2011), research on the construct of risk preference has been fragmented (Schonberg, Fox, & Poldrack, 2011), leaving fundamental questions regarding the nature of the underlying construct, its measurement, and its implications for life outcomes unaddressed.We recently aimed to clarify some of these questions by adopting a large psychometric framework and collected 39 risk-taking measures from 1,507 individuals (Frey, Pedroni, Mata, Rieskamp, & Hertwig, 2017; Pedroni, Frey, Bruhin, Rieskamp, & Hertwig, 2017). Based on the solid empirical basis obtained in this study, we investigated i) the convergent validity between different measures, ii) the underlying factor structure by means of psychometric modeling, and iii) the temporal stability of risk preference as captured by these measures. Thereby, we have substantially advanced conceptual issues on the construct of risk preference and its measurement in the lab.Surprisingly, however, there is a lack of sound scientific knowledge regarding the criteria, in terms of real- life outcomes, that the different measures of risk preference ought to predict. Instead, there is a vacuum of research targeting what risks people perceive in the modern world, with its novel opportunities and threats, and the empirical evidence on the ecology of risk taking is scarce. Thus, despite of recent clarifications regarding the nature of the underlying construct (Frey et al., 2017; Highhouse, Nye, Zhang, & Rada, 2016), past studies have not satisfactorily addressed when and how the construct risk preference (as measured in the lab) generalizes to real-life outcomes.In sum, the predictive validity of the construct risk preference (and its various measures) for life outcomes remains only weakly tested. In this project, I aim to address this issue by making use of novel methodologies for ecological assessments. Specifically, the proposed studies are designed to i) create a map of risk perception and risk taking in the contemporary population, using representative methods as well as state-of-the-art methods of ecological assessment (Subproject A), ii) address a potential method confound in the typical assessment of risk preference (Subproject B), and iii) eventually assess the predictive validity of the various measures (Subproject C) by linking the first two subprojects. Ultimately, only the combination of these separate parts will permit substantial novel insights into the psychological construct of risk preference, and how we can use the established measures of risk preference for predicting real-life outcomes.
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