Evaluating Risk Propensity Using an Objective Instrument

By Abad, Manuel J. Sueiro; Sánchez-Iglesias, Iván et al. | The Spanish Journal of Psychology, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Evaluating Risk Propensity Using an Objective Instrument


Abad, Manuel J. Sueiro, Sánchez-Iglesias, Iván, de Tella, Alejandra Moncayo, The Spanish Journal of Psychology


Risk propensity is the stable tendency to choose options with a lower probability of success, but greater rewards. Its evaluation has been approached from various perspectives: from self-report questionnaires to objective tests. Self-report questionnaires have often been criticized due to interference from voluntary and involuntary biases, in addition to their lack of predictive value. Objective tests, on the other hand, require resources that make them difficult to administer to large samples. This paper presents an easy-to-administer, 30-item risk propensity test. Each item is itself an objective test describing a hypothetical situation in which the subject must choose between three options, each with a different gain function but equivalent in expected value. To assess its psychometric fit, the questionnaire was administered to 222 subjects, and we performed a test of its reliability as well as exploratory factor analysis. The results supported a three-factor model of risk (Sports and Gambling, Long-term Plans, and Loss Management). After making the necessary adjustments and incorporating a global factor of risk propensity, confirmatory factor analysis was done, revealing that the data exhibited adequate goodness of fit.

Keywords: risk propensity, objective testing.

La tendencia al riesgo es una propensión estable a elegir opciones con menores probabilidades de éxito pero mayores recompensas. Su evaluación se ha abordado desde diferentes perspectivas: mediante cuestionarios de autoinforme y pruebas objetivas. El autoinforme ha sido frecuentemente criticado por la interferencia de sesgos voluntarios e involuntarios, y falta de validez predictiva. Las pruebas objetivas requieren recursos que hacen que sean difíciles de aplicar a grandes muestras de sujetos. Este trabajo presenta un test de tendencia al riesgo de treinta ítems de fácil aplicación. Cada ítem es en sí mismo una prueba objetiva que presenta al sujeto una situación hipotética en la que tiene que elegir entre tres opciones, cada una con una función de ganancia diferente pero equivalentes en su esperanza matemática. Para valorar sus bondades psicométricas, se aplicó el cuestionario a 222 sujetos y se realizaron análisis de fiabilidad y de validez factorial exploratorio. Los resultados apoyaron un modelo del riesgo en tres factores (deportes y juegos de azar, planes a largo plazo y prevención de pérdidas). Tras los ajustes necesarios al adoptar este modelo, e incluyendo un factor global de tendencia al riesgo, un análisis factorial confirmatorio mostró que los datos presentaban un ajuste adecuado.

Palabras clave: tendencia al riesgo, evaluación objetiva.

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

The study of risk has historically been approached from many different perspectives (León, 1987), from game theory, which assumes that subjects make decisions based on rational criteria (Bernoulli, 1954; Neuman & Politser, 1992; Savage, 1954), to trait models, which presume that risk propensity is a stable behavioral disposition (Eyseck, 1967, Costa & McCrae, 1995; Zuckerman, 1979).

Risk may also be understood as behavior learned by subjects through interacting with their environment over the course of their lives In other words, they learn through the interaction of internal and situational factors. Lopes's two-factor theory (1987) posits that behavior is organized to be consistent, yet the characteristics of a given situation determine certain behavioral parameters, such as intensity and frequency. Furthermore, given that risk is continually constructed as a function of contingencies, the notion that subjects are able to change their preferences has been put to the test, for example, when subjects receive feedback about their behavior (León & Lopes, 1988). Interactive style is an individual's propensity to behave in a certain way in a given situation (Ribes, 1990; Ribes & Sánchez, 1992). Interactive style forms according to previous, interactive experiences, and which behaviors have been reinforced in similar situations in the past, and which have been punished. …

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