The effects of risk-taking tendency on risk choice and pre- and post-decisional information selection

R.M. Meertens*, R. Liona

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Ideally, people seek and select information about unfamiliar risks with which they are confronted, before they make a risk choice. This study investigated what happens when people do not have this opportunity. The main question was how risk-taking tendency influences intuitive risk decisions and how this impacts subsequent information search and subsequent choices. In the present study, participants had to make a choice about an unfamiliar risk, either before or after they had had the opportunity to search for (risk-promoting or risk-averse) information. In the condition where they could only seek for information after they had made a choice, they had to reconsider their first choice and make a second risk choice. We expected that (1) risk-taking tendency would impact people's risk choices, but only in the situation where they have little information. On the basis of cognitive dissonance theory, it was furthermore predicted that (2) risk-taking tendency and (3) initial risk choice would affect risk information selection. Furthermore, we predicted that (4) the first risk choice and (5) the risk information selected would influence the subsequent risk choice. The results suggest that if people make a first, intuitive decision about an unknown risk, risk-taking tendency has an effect on the choice, but that this does not happen when people can first select information. Risk-taking tendency did not influence information selection, but initial choice did (although in another way than we expected). Furthermore, both the first risk choice and the risk information selected affected subsequent risk choices. These findings suggest that people often make initial intuitive decisions that are influenced by personality characteristics, and that are subsequently difficult to change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • risk perception
  • risk communication
  • risk-taking
  • cognitive dissonance
  • risk propensity
  • selective exposure
  • SELF

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