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SNSF Ambizione project started
Posted on Tue, Jan 16 2018
Together with my new Ph.D. student Markus Steiner, I have started to work on an SNSF Ambizione project entitled "Mapping the ecology of risk taking: A test of the generalizability of the construct risk preference to real-life behaviors." During the next three years we will run a series of lab studies and ecological assessments to i) address open issues regarding the measurement of risk preference, ii) to better understand the ecology of risk-taking behaviors in the modern society, and iii) to evaluate the predictive validity of different measures of risk preference for important life outcomes. You can learn more about this project in my research section.
Two new papers on risk preference
Posted on Wed, Oct 04 2017
The two core papers of the Basel-Berlin Risk Study have recently been published and are now available online (please see below for the full references). In these two publications we investigated the extent to which there is a general factor of risk preference (akin to g, the general factor of intelligence), and whether risk preference can be considered a stable psychological trait. We addressed these questions by implemented 39 risk-taking measures from three different measurement traditions: Propensity measures assessing "stated preferences", (incentivized) behavioral measures assessing "revealed preferences", and frequency measures assessing actual real-world risky activities. This battery was completed by 1,507 participants, with 109 participants completing a retest–session after a period of six months.
The results indicate that the propensity and frequency measures converge relatively well, thus forming a "positive manifold", whereas the (incentivized) behavioral measures show poor consistency (with the measures of the other measurement traditions, but also between each other). Moreover, our findings suggest that there is a broad general factor of risk preference, R, that accounts for 61% of the explained variance. This general factor is complemented by a series of domain-specific factors. Finally, the general factor proved to be highly reliable across a period of six months. To learn more about these results, please have a look at:
Frey, R., Pedroni, A., Mata, R., Rieskamp, J., & Hertwig, R. (2017). Risk preference shares the psychometric structure of major psychological traits. Science Advances, 3, e1701381. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1701381 Online | PDF
A second paper focuses exclusively on the behavioral measures (using the same dataset) and reports an extensive cognitive modeling analysis. The goal of this analysis was to investigate potential reasons for the lack of consistency across the various behavioral elicitation methods. People were found to differ substantially in the strategies they used in the various tasks, yet they did not do so in a very systematic way. Even at the level of model parameters, the consistency across behavioral tasks was poor, thus further calling into question the validity of behavioral measures as indicators of a person's risk preference. The detailed analyses on the behavioral tasks are published in:
Pedroni, A., Frey, R., Bruhin, A., Dutilh, G., Hertwig, R., & Rieskamp, J. (2017). The risk elicitation puzzle. Nature Human Behaviour. doi:10.1038/s41562-017-0219-x Online
All in all, our results suggest that risk preference has a similar psychometric structure as other major traits. In particular the observation of the general and stable factor may have important implications for future investigations of the biological foundations of risk preference. Moreover, as the lack of consistency across behavioral tasks showed, more attention needs to be given to the assessment of risk preference. For more information, please also have a look at my research section!
Bernoulli symposium on risk
Posted on Thu, Feb 09 2017
The Bernoulli Symposium on Risk took place Feb 2-4, 2017. A group of international researchers visited Basel to discuss individual variation in risk preference and risk-taking behaviour. It was a very stimulating and productive meeting involving a discussion of theoretical and measurement issues, and covering novel developmental, neural, and genetic approaches. The group will be writing a joint summary that describes the different views expressed in the symposium and that we hope will be helpful to many in the field – stay tuned!