Making Decisions for Other People: The Problem of Judging Acceptable Levels of Risk

  • Nigel Harvey University College London
  • Matt Twyman University College London
  • Clare Harries University College London
Keywords: risk preference, egocentrism, self-enhancement, proxy decision making, social judgement

Abstract

People often make judgments about the risk preferences of others. Doctors do so for patients, lawyers for clients, finance managers for investors, parents for children, carers for dependants. How are these judgments made? How do they relate to people's judgments about their own risk preferences? Research in other areas of social judgment has revealed that people are egocentric: they judge others in the same way that they judge themselves. In the domain of financial risk-taking, HSEE and WEBER (1997) found egocentrism when the judges could empathise with the other people. When they could not, judges assessed others' preferences to be much closer to risk neutrality. Our results for four non-financial domains (recreation, drug-taking, modes of transport, occupations) replicate HSEE and WEBER only for activities for which people show risk aversion. We discuss reasons for this and identify various factors that influence the size of self-other differences in judgments of risk acceptability. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0601266

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Author Biographies

Nigel Harvey, University College London
Nigel HARVEY is Professor of Judgement and Decision Research at University College London. He is a Research Fellow of the ESRC Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution. He is a past president of the European Association for Decision Making. With Derek KOEHLER, he co-edited the 2004 Blackwell Handbook of Judgement and Decision Making. His current research on trust and on judgement in the processing of evidence is funded by the ESRC and the Leverhulme Trust.
Matt Twyman, University College London
Matt TWYMAN is a Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at University College London. His research interests are in the application of theories of consciousness and metacognition to learning, judgement, and decision making paradigms (e.g. self-insight into trust placement during advice-based decision making). He is a co-organiser of the London Judgment and Decision Making group's seminar series (http://www.psychol.ucl.ac.uk/ljdm/).
Clare Harries, University College London
Clare HARRIES is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at University College London and a Research Fellow of the ESRC Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution. She teaches applied decision making and risk communication. Her research interests are in the applied and theoretical aspects of judgement and decision making (medical decision making, metacognition and self-insight, judgemental forecasting and advice-based decision making). She is an active member of the London Judgment and Decision Making group's seminar series (http://www.psychol.ucl.ac.uk/ljdm/).
Published
2006-01-31
How to Cite
Harvey, N., Twyman, M., & Harries, C. (2006). Making Decisions for Other People: The Problem of Judging Acceptable Levels of Risk. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-7.1.66
Section
Theorising Risk