Valuing risk: endorsed risk activities and motives across adulthood


This study used content analysis of survey responses to help understand attitudes regarding taking risks across the adult lifespan. A sample of 842 U.S. adults ages 18–92 were asked to report their personal philosophy of taking risks, and what risks they felt people their age should take more often. Thematic categories were identified to classify the range of risk activities and explicit motives for taking risks. Responses were coded, and frequencies of those risk activities and motives were compared between young adults (ages 18–29), middle adults (30–59), and older adults (60+). Logistic regression was used to identify linear and curvilinear trends. Interpreting results within a lifespan developmental task framework, we concluded that risk taking may be valued as a way to create opportunities during young adulthood, a means to capitalize on those opportunities in middle adulthood, and as a strategy for managing resources and well-being in late adulthood.

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Journal of Adult Development