Renato Frey Updates from Research stay at Princeton University Behavioral Science for Policy Lab at Princeton University. During the next few months, I will work together with Elke Weber to address questions regarding the generalizability of the construct risk preference (and potentially other personality dimensions) to sustainability- and energy-related decision making, as well as regarding the basic cognitive processes driving risk perceptions in these domains. Princeton has a thriving academic life, with numerous interesting talks at the various departments. Last but not least, the campus itself is phenomenal, including many beautiful libraries and quiet spaces to get a lot of work done!

Mon, 22 Oct 2018 18:19:52 +0200
New paper on surrogate decision making published in BMJ Open
In our previous research (Frey, Hertwig, & Herzog, 2014) we found that different approaches to surrogate decision making (e.g., a patient-designated surrogate; all family members rendering a joint decision; etc.) do not differ substantially in terms of their "predictive accuracy". Therefore, in our most recent paper published in the BMJ Open (Frey, Herzog, & Hertwig, 2018) we investigated people's "procedural preferences". That is, how strongly do people endorse different approaches to surrogate decision making?

The figure above shows the results from two representative population surveys that we conducted in Germany and Switzerland. People reported their procedural preferences for six different approaches to surrogate decision making, either from the perspective of an incapacitated patient or from the perspective of a potential surrogate for an incapacitated family member. Fortunately, the procedural preferences of potential "patients" and "surrogates" were mostly aligned. Yet, endorsements for the different approaches varied markedly (see figure). These findings may have direct implications for clinicians and policy makers, as current legislations only provide for individualistic approaches. You can learn more about this topic under my research section on medical decision making and by downloading our paper (open access) including the full set of results.

Thu, 02 Aug 2018 11:53:24 +0200
SNSF Ambizione project started 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.]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:42:53 +0100 Two new papers on risk preference 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:

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:

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!]]>
Wed, 04 Oct 2017 21:04:51 +0200
Bernoulli symposium on risk
By Rui Mata, first appeared on

Bernoulli Symposium
Thu, 09 Feb 2017 16:56:51 +0100