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Predicting domain-specific risk taking with the HEXACO personality structure

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Abstract

Although risk taking traditionally has been viewed as a unitary, stable individual difference variable, emerging evidence in behavioral decision-making research suggests that risk taking is a domain-specific construct. Utilizing a psychological risk-return framework that regresses risk taking on the perceived benefits and perceived riskiness of an activity (Weber & Milliman, 1997), this study examined the relations between risk attitude and broad personality dimensions using the new HEXACO personality framework (Lee & Ashton, 2004) across four risk domains. This personality framework, which has been replicated in lexical studies in over 12 natural languages, assess personality over six broad personality dimensions, as opposed to the traditional Five-Factor Model, or “Big Five.” Through path analysis, we regressed risk taking in four separate domains on risk perceptions, perceived benefits, and the six HEXACO dimensions. Across all risk domains, we found that the emotionality dimension was associated with heightened risk perceptions and high conscientiousness was associated with less perceived benefits. We also report several unique patterns of domain-specific relations between the HEXACO dimensions and risk attitude. Specifically, openness was associated with risk taking and perceived benefits for social and recreational risks, whereas lower honesty/humility was associated with greater health/safety and ethical risk taking. These findings extend our understanding of how individuals approach risk across a variety of contexts, and further highlight the utility of honesty/humility, a dimension not recovered in Big Five models, in individual differences research. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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