• Corinne Steinbrenner

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There are 7 comments on Why Do Some Kids Take Bigger Risks than Others?

  1. It is helpful to have empirical confirmation of what has long been observed — that people with less to lose and more to gain from a risk are more likely to take that risk. Usually one thinks of this in societal issues that involve criminal or deviant behavior, such as lying on a resume or job interview because one really needs that job; or theft/violence. Other examples of real-world findings are that low-income men take fewer risks when they marry and have children (Henrich discussed data on this when reviewing the fitness benefits of monogamy).

    What is fascinating in Blake’s work is to observe more caution (for higher SES children) in low-pay-off and a fairly ho-hum situations like children winning stickers. As Blake argues, this points to an powerful orientation towards risk, one that is akin to a personality setting (albeit one that of course can be influenced by such as peers observing, as are all personality set points).

  2. I don’t doubt your survey results but I can tell you that I came from a well-to-do family and was a huge risk taker throughout my young, adolescent and adult life. My son, on the other hand, who also comes from a well-to-do family is not a risk taker at all. My wife comes from a less affluent family and is very risk averse. I attribute all to the degree to which each possesses a sense, awareness, or fear of consequence before actions rather than any socio economic factors.

  3. This behavior is quite the human response across age groups and indeed time. We have historic military (Agincourt, Hitler, Putin) as well as business (Enron, Madox) examples of risk behaviors for large gains. Interesting to note it is inherent in the young as well.

  4. Birth order, family size, and cohort size could all be contributing factors. Will future studies include questions about these and other related factors? Even school class size has an impact on whether a student will risk participating in class discussions.

  5. This also explains why lottery tickets are so popular among lower-income populations. Every time one loses, it’s a waste of money, but the payoff is worth the risk, even when that risk becomes financially costly. Let’s stop castigating people for “wasting” their money when there are so many factors that enter their decision making.

  6. I am a parent of 3 now grown boys, and I can tell you, after the first 20 times my kids were given stickers, they were no longer interested in stickers. This study failed to consider if the participants even wanted stickers, or how much they wanted them, or what their motivations were. Greed and the chance to acquire more could just as easily have been the motivation. (Isn’t that what the stock market is about – risk and reward?) Another motivation for foregoing the risk may have been not wanting to “lose”, or not wanting to be embarrassed by losing, in front of everyone. There are many motivations and factors that could have influenced the decision making, to attribute it all to risk based on socioeconomic factors.

    I drove a school bus for years, watched my sons and my sons’ friends, was a Cub Scout leader, and have interacted with a lot of young kids. I can honestly say that the biggest risk takers were the kids whose parents were well off, who would just throw their hands up when the kids took risks (because they could afford to absorb the costs…injuries, damages, defending them to the police and in court). Some of the worst risk takers were children of public officials or “pillars of society”.

    Also, having followed many of them from child-care age, through kindergarten elementary, middle, and high school, I found it easy to identify many risk takers even at one year old or less. Long before many of them had any understanding of socioeconomic status, these are the kids who would do things that caused them injuries, and worse, they would get other kids to do things, especially the “less affluent” ones. Examples – going out on a lake with thin ice, convincing others to do so as well; convincing kids to go into dark wooded areas with a lake, where they ended up lost and stuck with thorns, burrs and covered with ticks; driving kids to an old quarry and challenging them to dive down into the water at the bottom (waters filled with broken bottles, old cars, junk, snakes); later, convincing other kids to join them in trying nicotine, alcohol, drug products, breaking into old buildings, stealing things, racing their street vehicles. In EVERY case, the “leader of the pack” was from middle class or above; many of the “patsies” were from a lower socio economic class, but looked up to wanted the approval of “the leader of the pack”.

    Just look at what is going on right now with the missing “tour to the Titanic” sub. Each participant paid $250,000. Many had gone on other expensive death-defying adventures. Look at any high risk activity, and you will find the wealthiest among us as participants – they are the ones able to afford the extreme adventures/equipment/losses if something goes awry. You do not find poor people climbing Mount Everest, deep cave diving, booking a flight to outer space, big game hunting, or undersea adventures to the Titanic or being dropped amidst sharks in a shark cage.

    The sticker experiment is also nothing like the animals in the wild example. Those animals are fending for their lives. Being very hungry requires finding food to survive; if you are not hungry, no need to take a risk because your survival is not in the balance. (Animals do not have socio-economic status, so it can’t be compared on that basis, either). But, like the fully sated wild animal that has no need to take a risk because it is fully sated, maybe the children who did not take the risk had all the stickers they wanted at home, and likely even better things, so just weren’t interested in making an effort to get more stickers.

  7. The experimental evidence presented, exploring how children from different economic statuses make decisions in risky situations, is both insightful and thought-provoking. Overall, a well-executed and enlightening study that contributes valuable insights to the field of child psychology. Do you love your kids? Take them to disneyland Paris with best transfer from cdg to disneyland Paris.

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