Are People More Risk-Taking in the Presence of the Opposite Sex?

24 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2007 Last revised: 21 Jul 2012

See all articles by Patrick McAlvanah

Patrick McAlvanah

Federal Trade Commission - Bureau of Economics

Date Written: September 26, 2007


This paper investigates whether exposure to the opposite sex induces greater risk-taking in both males and females using a probability discounting procedure with hypothetical monetary rewards. Experimental subjects viewed pictures of opposite sex faces; control subjects viewed pictures of cars. Both males and females viewing opposite sex photos displayed a significant increase in risk tolerance, whereas the control subjects exhibited no significant change. Surprisingly, the attractiveness of the photo had no effect; subjects viewing photographs of attractive opposite sex persons displayed similar results as those viewing photographs of unattractive people.

Keywords: risk preferences, probability discounting, experimental economics, behavioral economics, arousal effect

JEL Classification: C91, D81

Suggested Citation

McAlvanah, Patrick, Are People More Risk-Taking in the Presence of the Opposite Sex? (September 26, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Patrick McAlvanah (Contact Author)

Federal Trade Commission - Bureau of Economics ( email )

600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Mail Drop HQ238
Washington, DC 20580
United States

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