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Risk-Taking and the Media


Address correspondence to Peter Fischer, Institute of Psychology, Social Psychology, Karl-Franzens-University, Graz, Austria;


In recent years, media formats with risk-glorifying content, such as video games that simulate illegal street racing (“bang and crash” games), films about extreme sports, and risky stunts have emerged as top sellers of the media industry. A variety of recent studies conducted by several researchers revealed that exposure to risk-glorifying media content (e.g., video games that simulate reckless driving, smoking and drinking in movies, or depictions that glorify extreme sports) increases the likelihood that recipients will show increased levels of risk-taking inclinations and behaviors. The present article (1) reviews the latest research on the detrimental impact of risk-glorifying media on risk-taking inclinations (cognitions, emotions, behaviors), (2) puts these findings in the theoretical context of recent sociocognitive models on media effects, and (3) makes suggestions to science and policymakers on how to deal with these effects in the future.