Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The purpose of the present investigation was to determine whether individual differences in uncertainty orientation could predict risk-taking in situations where outcomes were based on chance or skill. Drawing on research by Sorrentino, Short and Raynor (1984), it was predicted that in both chance and skill situations, uncertainty-oriented persons would choose options of intermediate risk more than risky or cautious ones, and that this difference would be greater than that for certainty-oriented individuals. Three studies were conducted to test the general hypothesis. The first was a chance situation where subjects chose between two that varied in probability and payoff, which varied inversely. The second study also had participants choose between paired events that differed in probability and payoff. For half of these pairs, however, the expected value (the product of probability and payoff) was the same for both choices and for the other half of the pairs, it varied. The third study involved a skilled task. Results from all three studies indicate that risk-taking behaviour is affected by uncertainty orientation and gender. That is, in the first two studies, uncertainty-oriented males and females tended to prefer intermediate risk to risky or cautious alternatives and certainty-oriented females preferred cautious and certainty-oriented males preferred risky alternatives to choices of intermediate risk. In the third study, risk preference for certainty-oriented persons was the same as in the first two studies, however, the preference for intermediate risk for uncertainty-oriented persons was attenuated by preferences for caution or extreme risk for females and males, respectively. In this skilled situation cultural value appeared to increase in salience for risk-taking behaviour. Results from all three studies do suggest that there is a relationship between gender, uncertainty orientation and risk-taking, although it may be more complex than it was originally thought to be.



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