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Episode Info: In today's episode I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Sarah Helfinstein about her research article titled "If all your friends jumped off a bridge: The effect of others’ actions on engagement in and recommendation of risky behaviors." As always I really appreciate the fact that you are listening. Please feel free to share comments or question in the section below, or feel free to send me a message at Also to subscribe to the podcast through email, click here.   Abstract "There is a large gap between the types of risky behavior we recommend to others and those we engage in ourselves. In this study, we hypothesized that a source of this gap is greater reliance on information about others’ behavior when deciding whether to take a risk oneself than when deciding whether to recommend it to others. To test this hypothesis, we asked participants either to report their willingness to engage in a series of risky behaviors themselves; their willingness to recommend those behaviors to a loved one; or, how good of an idea it would be for either them or a loved one to engage in the behaviors. We then asked them to evaluate those behaviors on criteria related to the expected utility of the risk (benefits, costs, and likelihood of costs), and on engagement in the activity by people they knew. We found that, after accounting for effects of perceived benefit, cost, and likelihood of cost, perceptions of others’ behavior had a dramatically larger impact on participants’ willingness to engage in a risk than on their willingness to recommend the risk or their prescriptive evaluation of the risk. These findings indicate that the influence of others’ choices on risk-taking behavior is large, direct, cannot be explained by an economic utility model of risky decision-making, and goes against one’s own better judgment."
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