Information processing, situation specificity, and the generality of risk-taking behavior
An effort was made to construct two structurally similar risk-taking tasks in order to evaluate inter-task consistency of individual differences. Only the mode of response differed between tasks. In one task, subjects chose their preferred bet within each of a number of pairs of bets. In the other, they set selling prices for these same bets. A measure of the subject's preference for 'long shot' gambles was obtained from each response. Reliable individual differences were found for each measure. However, the inter-measure correlation was relatively low considering the high degree of similarity between tasks. It is argued that the two response modes triggered different methods of processing information about probabilities and payoffs in a way that perturbed individual differences and reduced inter-task consistency. Information-processing considerations may be one important component of the situation specificity prevalent in risk-taking behavior. These results imply that high correlations are unlikely between risk-taking measures in structurally different settings or between risk-taking and other behaviors.