Research press release


Scientific Reports

Human behaviour: Students more likely to take risks if they think their peers do too


Livia TomovaとLuiz Pessoaは、18~25歳の学生52人に、危険を冒す行動の測定を目的とした実験室内での課題を行わせた。この課題は、被験者が空気入れを使って風船をふくらませて金銭を得るというもので、空気入れのレバーを押す回数が増えると風船が爆発して、被験者は金銭を得られなくなる。1回目の試験が終わったところで、被験者は、レバーを押す回数を決めた後で、他の被験者が何回レバーを押すことにしたのかを聞かされた(実際は、あらかじめ決まっていた回数を告げられた)。次に被験者には、レバーを押す回数を変更する機会が与えられた。その結果、被験者は、仲間が危険性の高い行動を取ると思われる時には自分も危険性の高い行動を取り、反対に仲間が危険性の低い行動を取ると思われる時には自分も危険性の低い行動を取った。


Being in the presence of peers who engage in risky behaviours may have an influence on individual choices that involve risk a study in Scientific Reports suggests. In a laboratory task, participants who knew of riskier behaviour taken by their peers, tended to make riskier choices themselves. Observing safe choices by others was associated with less risky behaviour.

Livia Tomova and Luiz Pessoa asked 52 students aged 18-25 years old to take part in a laboratory-based task to measure risk taking. Participants could earn money by pumping up a balloon, however, the chances of the balloon exploding (and the participant not earning any money) increased with each pump. After the first round of the test, participants decided how much they wanted to pump the balloon up and were told the decisions the other students supposedly made (in reality, these were predefined decisions). They then gave the participants the chance to change their decision. Individuals were found to display riskier behaviours if they believed their peers took high risks, and vice versa.

The authors suggest that understanding how choices of others can influence risky behaviour is becoming more important, given increasing access to information about others’ lifestyles and opinions due to social media and new forms of information technology.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23455-7


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