Men, Women & Risk

A couple of years ago, DH told me something he’d heard about how men and women evaluate risk.  Apparently men will evaluate a risk considering more the likelihood of danger, versus how serious that danger is.  Therefore they may decide to take a risk with a potentially very dangerous outcome, if they think it’s highly unlikely that dangerous outcome will actually happen.

On the other hand (so DH told me) women will weigh the severity of the potential outcome much more highly than the likelihood of that outcome.  Thus a woman may decide to not take a risk that carries a lot of danger, even though the chances of it actually happening are small.

When I look at how DH and I make decisions, it seems pretty accurate.  He was happy to have laser eye surgery done – and has been very happy with the results.  Although I know it’s a well-researched procedure and it has a good track record, there is always a small risk that something could go wrong.  I just don’t want to take any chances I don’t have to take with my vision.  Glasses don’t really bother me (and in fact, given my general klutziness, they are a pretty good idea anyway.  At least once a year I walk into a wall or a door, or something pokes at me in the vicinity of my eyes, and I’m glad to have eye protection!)

So what do you think?  Does this observation about gender and risk taking ring true to you?


4 thoughts on “Men, Women & Risk

  1. This describes me and my husband dead on and explains our frustration with each other. I think he doesn’t respect my concerns and dismisses them and he thinks I worry too much and need to calm down. Now, you’ve shown me a different perspective that caused the proverbial light bulb over my head to switch on.

  2. Ann Z says:

    I had never heard it broken down by sex like that, but I’ve often heard that people in general don’t calculate risks well, especially when the severity is high, but the likelihood is low.

  3. Amy says:

    In general and based on my very non-scientific observations, I think this is a pretty accurate assessment. It doesn’t hold true in my family, though–we are the reverse. I align more closely with the masculine emotional/psychological viewpoint than the feminine in most areas, though.

    I think it’s because I grew up with a twin brother and we are very, very close. The influence has worked in reverse, too, b/c he’s noticed many ways in which HE doesn’t align with the average male patterns..

  4. Rings true for me. I’d like to think that I have a pretty good handle on probability, but when the outcome might be severe, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

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