Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Babies flick 'anti-risk switch' in women but not men

Date:
April 17, 2012
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Unlike women, men don’t curb certain risk-taking behaviors when a baby is present, a new psychology study suggests.

Gambling. Unlike women, men don't curb certain risk-taking behaviours when a baby is present, a new psychology study at the University of Warwick suggests. Whereas women are significantly more cautious when they are partnered with small children in a gambling game measuring their attitude to risk, men don't substantially alter their willingness to take a chance.
Credit: Sashkin / Fotolia

Unlike women, men don't curb certain risk-taking behaviours when a baby is present, a new psychology study at the University of Warwick suggests. Whereas women are significantly more cautious when they are partnered with small children in a gambling game measuring their attitude to risk, men don't substantially alter their willingness to take a chance.

Researchers suggested this could be due to evolutionary forces that select for men who are more competitive and risk-seeking in order to establish status and women who are more risk-averse in order to protect their offspring.

Scientists at the University of Warwick and the University of Basel observed students playing a gambling game while alone and while paired with either an image of an attractive man, woman or baby with whom they imagined they would share their winnings.

A second less surprising finding of the study was that men took more risks when partnered with other men -- consistent with theories suggesting that men are driven to compete with other men in order to maximise their reproductive opportunities.

However men did not increase their risk-taking behaviour when paired with a woman, a fact researchers believed was down to the co-operative design of the game where participants shared their winnings with their partner.

This particular finding has parallels in the real world where studies have shown that men in committed relationships show less risky behaviour as they no longer need to compete with other males to gain a woman's attention.

Dr Thomas Hills of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick said: "To our knowledge this is the first study to look directly at the effect of babies on male and female risk-taking.

"Our attitudes to risk form a big part of our personality and determine our behaviour in all sorts of areas -- for example how we approach financial investments or what leisure activities we indulge in.

"Even though the women in the study were not the mothers of the babies they paired with, just having a baby involved in the game was enough to substantially change their behaviour.

"It's as if babies turn off women's a willingness to take a risk -- but interestingly the same doesn't apply to men."

The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Eighty undergraduate students (40 male and 40 female) took part in the study.

The participants accumulated cash while pumping up a computer-simulated balloon which could explode randomly at any moment.

As the game progressed, participants had to decide whether to stop pumping and "bank" the winnings -- or whether to continue and risk the balloon exploding and all the cash being lost.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dominic Fischer, Thomas T. Hills. The baby effect and young male syndrome: social influences on cooperative risk-taking in women and men. Evolution and Human Behavior, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2012.01.006

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Babies flick 'anti-risk switch' in women but not men." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417101936.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2012, April 17). Babies flick 'anti-risk switch' in women but not men. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417101936.htm
University of Warwick. "Babies flick 'anti-risk switch' in women but not men." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417101936.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins