RISK ATTITUDES - CONCEPTUALIZATION, MEASUREMENT, APPLICATION
 
Rohrmann, B., University of Melbourne, Australia
 
While risk behavior has been studied intensely and a large number of risk perception studies is available , far less research exists regarding people's risk attitudes, i.e., risk propensity and risk aversion. These can be conceptualized as two poles of a one-dimensional attitude towards risk-taking but also as two separate concepts. It is widely assumed that people differ considerably in their attitude towards risks, ranging from cautiousness to risk-seeking and even pleasure in risk- taking. However, there is no convincing evidence that this presumed dimension is a general trait (rather than a state, or a domain-specific attitude, e.g., distinct for physical, financial, or social risks people may encounter). Furthermore, basically no established measurement tools exist. In this contribution, the conceptualization of risk attitudes will be outlined, three new instruments (Risk Orientations Questionnaire, Risk Scenarios Questionnaire, Risk Motivations Questionnaire) presented and empirical findings about the characteristics of these scales - including contingencies with related constructs (e.g., ventureness, sensation- seeking, impulsiveness) examined. All instruments are based on the respondents' view of their principal standpoint in risk situations (rather than hypothetical gambles). The results so far indicate that risk attitudes are multidimensional, that individual risk orientations are not necessarily consistent across domains, and that the reasons for accepting risks vary considerably, depending on the type of hazard. Finally, potential applications - e.g., in analyzing risky behaviors or enhancing the safety orientation of risk-exposed people - and implications for further research are discussed.