Rapid Thinkers Take Greater Risks

More

Speeding up your rate of thought makes you more accept more risk. Are you feeling lucky?

dice-615.jpg

Flickr/topher76

Pop quiz: do you consider yourself a fast thinker or a slow thinker? Time's up! If you took less than a second to answer that, you might be more of a risk-taker.

That's according to new research (via Psychology Today) from a team of Princeton scientists who thought there might be a causal relationship between the speed of a person's thought and their willingness to embrace dangerous behavior, such as illegal drug use and unprotected sex.

The researchers, Emily Pronin and Jesse Chandler, ran two tests in a study that appeared this month in Psychological Science. Participants were divided into two groups. One group was primed by being asked to read a set of trivia statements at twice their normal reading speed, while members of the other group were asked to read the same statements at half-speed.

All the participants were then told to play a standard game that's used to determine risk acceptance. Called the Balloon Analog Risk Task, the game connects a physical button to a computer screen. Each time a player presses the button, a balloon projected onto the screen inflates a little, and the player earns a bit of cash. The balloon will obviously pop if it's over-inflated, but the players have no way of knowing when they've reached that point. If the balloon pops, the player loses all his money.

Study participants who'd been primed for fast thinking exhibited a greater appetite for risk. Compared to those who'd read the trivia statements at half-speed, the fast thinkers pushed the button to inflate the balloon more often. They also inadvertently popped more balloons. In a second experiment, the researchers played video clips of nature scenes at different rates. Those who'd watched videos with less time between cuts reported greater willingness to engage in risky behavior.

So the next time you're in a situation that demands some bold -- or even brash -- action, try psyching yourself up beforehand.


Jump to comments
Presented by

Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In