Male physical risk taking in a virtual environment
until further notice
Number of pages
SourceJournal of Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 1, (2010), pp. 75-86
Article / Letter to editor
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Journal of Evolutionary Psychology
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
Research has shown that male risk taking is enhanced by the presence of observers. However, naturalistic observations and laboratory experiments have provided mixed evidence as to whether male physical risk taking is primarily directed at females, at other males, or both. We present a behavioral experiment in virtual reality in which males ( N = 72) crossed an ominous bridge over a steep valley — either in the presence of a male virtual observer, a female virtual observer, or alone. A male or female experimenter was present while the participants crossed the bridge. Our results show that males crossed the bridge faster in the presence of a female experimenter than in the presence of a male experimenter. Follow up tests revealed that the experimenter effect was driven by the condition in which the virtual observer was female. This finding is consistent with previous work suggesting that male physical risk taking is primarily directed at females.
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