Do level rewards influence risky behaviors?

In the course of history, it is evident that humans have evolved or progressed thru risk taking. As a matter of fact, it can be concluded that human activities can be assumed as comprising a component of risk. For instance, as a child, when you take your first step, you risk falling down, when you try a new diet, you risk being sickened; as you ride a motorcycle, you risk falling over (Hardy, 2013). In summary, humans and risk are tangled together and that is why it is not surprising that, in spite of the risk-averse people that seem to have lately evolved, numerous individuals still crave danger, enjoyment, and risk. This element of risk can be clearly be illustrated in the recent thriving of high-risk actions for example, bungee jumping and skydiving (Hardy, 2013).

However, the long-term assessment at this point is, people who take part in high-risk undertakings form a distinct uniform group referred to as sensation seekers (Hardy, 2013). And yet, there are a number of risk takers who seem to be inspired by something extra. For instance, there is the story of George Mallory’s determined quest to reach the peak of Mount Everest in the early 1920s, which was the main factor that led to his death in the year 1924, this can barely be deliberated as sensation seeking (Hardy, 2013). According to Zuckerman, sensation seekers show an enthusiasm to take risks with the sole interest of experiencing the sensation rewards of sensation-seeking actions for instance, drug use or dangerous driving (Zuckerman, 1994). However, according to other scholars, sensation seeking is evidently an unrewarding theoretical viewpoint from which to comprehend the motives for such practices (Hardy, 2013).


In the world of gambling, the core drive for any gambler is to win the cash, In fact, it is assumed that the related enjoyment achieves significant conditioned inducement and underpinning roles that motivate the behavior (Hamilton, 1974). An increase in physiological stimulation, especially of the heart rate, has been established and supported by research done pertaining gambling behavior both in the normal setting along with the laboratory setting (Wulfert and Seifert, 2011).When trying to compare or equate the research studies conducted in the real-world setting with research done in laboratories, you will gather that, lab studies acknowledge only better experimental regulation of particular items which are under analysis. It is also vital to note that laboratory research studies are characterized by a major limitation especially when using laboratory analogs (Wulfert and Seifert, 2011). This is because this experiments normally fail to give a clear imitation of the real-world of gambling. In addition, they don’t reveal the model level of reward. As a result, the outcomes of analog studies may show partial value especially if you are trying to understand the crucial part of arousal and pleasure that is linked with gambling (Wulfert and Seifert, 2011).

In spite of the limitation in laboratory studies, laboratory studies have persuasively revealed that there is an association of reward in both psychological enjoyment or excitement and physiological arousal (Wulfert and Seifert, 2011). Presently, there are only two known theories which have tried to show the real reasons for risky decision making amongst gamblers especially in a situation where the probabilities and values of the different probable results are stated (Miller, Meyer and Lanzetta, 1969). These theories were forwarded by one of the celebrated scholars in the field called Edwards. According to Edwards, the first theory does not concern us directly as individuals, however, it assumes that the person who makes a decision assesses his or her decision objectively for every single gamble exclusively based on its anticipated worth to him or her. (Edwards, 1962). On the other hand, the other theory that is concerned with us as individuals, assumes that the person who makes a decision assesses a gamble in no less than two ways: first, based on anticipated value and secondly, based on observed riskiness (Coombs, 1967). In summary, a desired order is attained by joining the two assessments.

In summary, there are various features associated with a gamble that might define the riskiness of a gamble, for example, the coincidence that a defeat might occur, the complete extent of a likely loss or the difference of the likely results. Therefore, one can assume that when gambling, risk is definitely linked to every single of these risk determiners (Miller, Meyer and Lanzetta, 1969). The work of numerous theorists has revealed outstanding promise particularly on motivation relevant to risk taking behavior. Prominent among the theorists, is Atkinson’s theory on the motivation factors of risk taking behavior, this theory has revealed a productive attitude to a number of behavioral occurrences. Atkinson forwards that, an individual’s inclination to pursue achievement on any particular undertaking is a multiplicative role of his or her intrinsic motivation to pursue achievement. Based on the above argument, it can therefore, be concluded that reward does influence behavior.


Coombs, C. H. (1967). Some risky decision theories. Paper presented at the meeting of the Psychometric Society, Madison, Wisconsin.

Edwards, W. (1962). Subjective probabilities inferred from decisions. Psychological Review, 69, 109-135.

Hamilton, J. (1974). Motivation and Risk Taking Behavior: A Test of Atkinson’s Theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1974, Vol, 29, No. 6, 856-864

Hardy, L., Woodman, T. and Barlow, M. (2013). Great Expectations: Different High-Risk Activities Satisfy Different Motives.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 105, No. 3, 458–475.

Miller, L., Meyer, D. and Lanzetta, J. (1969).Choice among equal expected value alternatives: sequential effects of winning probability level on risk preferences. Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol. 79, No. 3, 419-423.

Wulfert, E. and Seifert, C. (2011). The Effects of Realistic Reward and Risk on Simulated Gambling Behavior.The American Journal on Addictions, 20: 120–126.

Zuckerman, M. (1994). Behavioral expressions and biosocial bases of sensation seeking. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.