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Open Psychology

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Risk Taking with Variable Resources: a Field and a Laboratory Experiment

Klára Faragó
  • Corresponding author
  • Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, ELTE PPK, Institute of Psychology, Budapest,Hungary
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  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Ajna Uatkán
  • Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, ELTE PPK, Institute of Psychology & Doctoral School of Psychology, Budapest, Hungary
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-09-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/psych-2018-0004


Background: Theoretical predictions and experimental findings concerning the relationship between risk taking and accumulated resources are contradictory. In contrast to laboratory experiments, studies conducted in an ecologically valid environment allow for the evaluation of available resources and the motivational impact of potentially serious consequences for risk taking. Objective: Our aim was to (i) examine the influence of available resources on risk taking in an ecologically valid field experiment; and (ii) to compare “real life” and laboratory experiments assessing risk taking. Method: To reproduce real decisions involving real stakes, the students were asked to choose between exam questions representing different levels of difficulty. Available resources of the students were defined as the amount of points accumulated during the semester. In parallel, the laboratory experiments were conducted to assess risk taking in a laboratory setting. Results: The two experimental setups yielded different results. In the field experiment, risk taking decreased with the available resources, whereas the laboratory experiments suggested an inverse tendency. The influence of contextual effects was only prominent in the field experiment.Conclusion: The results of the field experiment support the variable risk preference model, whereas the risk-sensitivity theory could only be validated in the laboratory setting.

Keywords: risk taking; available resources; field experiment; risk-sensitivity theory; variable risk preference model


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About the article

Received: 2018-02-09

Accepted: 2018-07-15

Published Online: 2018-09-25

Published in Print: 2018-09-01

Citation Information: Open Psychology, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 36–57, ISSN (Online) 2543-8883, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/psych-2018-0004.

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© by Klára Faragó and Ajna Uatkán, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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