Embracing Chance Tactically: A Different Perspective on Risk Taking

Orit E. Tykocinski, Inbal Amir, Shahar Ayal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although they value certainty, people are willing to take risks to avoid losses. Consequently, they are risk-seeking in the domain of losses but risk-avoidant in the domain of gains. This behavior, frequently demonstrated in framing experiments, is traditionally explained in terms of prospect theory. We suggest a different account whereby involving chance in one's decisions may serve a strategic impression-formation function. In the domain of losses actors may embrace chance to distance themselves from the outcomes and deflect possible blame. Given potential gains, however, actors may avoid uncertainty to enhance their association with valued outcomes. We test this idea by manipulating the level of actors' personal responsibility for the decision outcomes. The results of four studies consistently showed that when personal responsibility is high, the original framing effect is replicated (i.e., greater risk-taking when choices are framed in terms of losses rather than gains). However, when because of assigned role or decision circumstances, actors experience low personal responsibility for the outcomes, and the classic framing effect is eliminated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-692
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian disease
  • chance
  • decision-making
  • framing effects
  • responsibility
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences (all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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