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Risk Taking Across the Life Span: A Comparison of Self-Report and Behavioral Measures of Risk Taking

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Mamerow Loreen, Frey Renato, Mata Rui,
Project Age differences in risk taking: The role of task and individual characteristics
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Psychology and Aging
Title of proceedings Psychology and Aging


Aging has long been thought to be associated with changes in risk-taking propensity. But do different measures converge in showing similar age-related patterns? We conducted a study to investigate the convergent validity of different self-report and behavioral assessments of risk taking across adulthood (N = 902). Individuals between 18 and 90 years of age answered a self-report item and completed 2 incentivized behavioral tasks: a gambles task and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task. Our results indicate that although all measures show some patterns indicative of an age reduction in risk taking, the correlations between measures are small. Moreover, age differences in behavioral paradigms seem to emerge as a function of specific task characteristics, such as learning and computational demands. We discuss the importance of understanding how specific task characteristics engender age differences in risk taking and the need for future work that disentangles task demands from true age-related changes in risk-taking propensity.