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Security or opportunity: the influence of risk‐taking tendency on risk information preference

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It has been suggested that risk avoiders and risk takers differ in the extent to which they focus on the worst and best outcomes of a risky activity. By implication risk avoiders and risk takers should also differ in their risk information preferences. Specifically, as risk avoiders focus more on the worst outcomes, it was hypothesized that they would prefer negative information about the risk. In contrast, as risk takers focus more on the best outcomes, it was hypothesized that they would prefer positive information about the risk. In an information selection task, subjects could select newspaper headlines that indicated negative and positive information about a variety of risks. Contrary to the hypothesis, risk avoiders selected more positive information than risk takers. The results are discussed in relation to the influence of personality on risk taking. One tentative explanation is that differences in anxiety between risk avoiders and risk takers account for these results in that risk avoiders try to find reassurance by seeking positive information. Another is that the participants were seeking reassurance in a relatively involuntary confrontation with risks.

Keywords: accountability; information seeking; risk

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Health Education and Promotion, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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