Risk-Taking Tendencies in Prisoners and Nonprisoners: Does Gender Matter?

Szymon Wichary , Thorsten Pachur , Mengduo Li


Abstract Several investigations have found that prisoners are more likely than nonprisoners to engage in risky behavior, which may contribute to their propensity to commit criminal offenses. However, this research has been limited by an almost exclusive focus on male samples. Given the established link between risk taking and gender, it is thus unclear how findings on the risk-taking propensities of prisoners also hold in women. The present study uses both a self-report questionnaire (Domain-Specific Risk Taking scale, DOSPERT) and a behavioral task (Balloon Analogue Risk Task, BART) to investigate risk-taking tendencies in a Chinese prisoner group and a nonprisoner control group with balanced gender proportions. Across both genders, prisoners both indicated a higher risk-taking tendency on the DOSPERT and showed more risk-taking behavior on the BART than did nonprisoners. Importantly, the differences were considerably more pronounced in women than in men. Relative to nonprisoners, gender differences in risk taking were substantially smaller, or even reversed, in prisoners. Computational modeling of respondents' behavior in the BART revealed that the prisoners had higher reward sensitivity and lower response consistency than the nonprisoners; these differences were again more pronounced among women. Our results suggest that previous studies based primarily on male prisoners may have underestimated differences in risk taking between prisoners and nonprisoners, and that female prisoners may represent an even more extreme subpopulation than male prisoners.
Author Szymon Wichary (Wydział Psychologii)
Szymon Wichary,,
- Wydział Psychologii
, Thorsten Pachur
Thorsten Pachur,,
, Mengduo Li
Mengduo Li,,
Journal seriesJournal of Behavioral Decision Making, ISSN 1099-0771, (0 pkt)
Issue year2015
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in Englishrisk taking, prisoners, gender, computational modeling, BART, DOSPERT
URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bdm.1866
Languageen angielski
WicharyEtAl_Risk-Taking tendencies in prisoners and nonprisoners_pages_jbdm.pdf 139.28 KB
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BROWN_IR-ADV5255_16_0107_001-45.pdf 15.63 KB
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