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Predicting (un)healthy behavior: A comparison of risk-taking propensity measures

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  • Helena Szrek
  • Li-Wei Chao
  • Shandir Ramlagan
  • Karl Peltzer
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    Abstract

    We compare four different risk-taking propensity measures on their ability to describe and to predict actual risky behavior in the domain of health. The risk-taking propensity measures we compare are: (1) a general measure of risk-taking propensity derived from a one-item survey question (Dohmen et al., 2011), (2) a risk aversion index calculated from a set of incentivized monetary gambles (Holt & Laury, 2002), (3) a measure of risk taking derived from an incentive compatible behavioral task---the Balloon Analog Risk Task (Lejuez et al., 2002), and (4) a composite score of risk-taking likelihood in the health domain from the Domain-Specific Risk Taking (DOSPERT) scale (Weber et al., 2002). Study participants are 351 clients of health centers around Witbank, South Africa. Our findings suggest that the one-item general measure is the best predictor of risky health behavior in our population, predicting two out of four behaviors at the 5% level and the remaining two behaviors at the 10% level. The DOSPERT score in the health domain performs well, predicting one out of four behaviors at the 1% significance level and two out of four behaviors at the 10% level, but only if the DOSPERT instrument contains a hypothetical risk-taking item that is similar to the actual risky behavior being predicted. Incentivized monetary gambles and the behavioral task were unrelated to actual health behaviors; they were unable to predict any of the risky health behaviors at the 10% level. We provide evidence that this is not because the participants had trouble understanding the monetary trade-off questions or performed poorly in the behavioral task. We conclude by urging researchers to further test the usefulness of the one-item general measure, both in explaining health related risk-taking behavior and in other contexts.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Society for Judgment and Decision Making in its journal Judgment and Decision Making.

    Volume (Year): 7 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 6 (November)
    Pages: 716-727

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    Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:7:y:2012:i:6:p:716-727

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    Related research

    Keywords: BART; CRRA; DOSPERT; monetary gambles; problem drinking; risk behavior; risky sexual behavior; risk-taking propensity; seat belt use; smoking.;

    References

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    1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, 06.
    2. Charness, Gary & Viceisza, Angelino, 2012. "Comprehension and Risk Elicitation in the Field: Evidence from Rural Senegal," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt5512d150, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
    3. Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Working Papers 1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    4. Anderson, Lisa R. & Mellor, Jennifer M., 2008. "Predicting health behaviors with an experimental measure of risk preference," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1260-1274, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Liora Zimerman & Shaul Shalvi & Yoella Bereby-Meyer, 2014. "Self-reported ethical risk taking tendencies predict actual dishonesty," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 9(1), pages 58-64, January.
    2. Antonio FILIPPIN & Paolo CROSETTO, 2014. "A Reconsideration of Gender Differences in Risk Attitudes," Departmental Working Papers 2014-01, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    3. Miraldo, M & Galizzi, M & Stavropoulou, C, 2013. "In sickness but not in wealth: Field evidence on patients? risk preferences in the financial and health domain," Working Papers 12579, Imperial College, London, Imperial College Business School.

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