Human Nature

, 8:287 | Cite as

The role of future unpredictability in human risk-taking

  • Elizabeth M. Hill
  • Lisa Thomson Ross
  • Bobbi S. Low


Models of risk-taking as used in the social sciences may be improved by including concepts from life history theory, particularly environmental unpredictability and life expectancy. Community college students completed self-report questionnaires measuring these constructs along with several well-known correlates. The frequency of risk-taking was higher for those with higher future unpredictability beliefs and shorter lifespan estimates (as measured by the Future Lifespan Assessment developed for this study), and unpredictability beliefs remained significant after accounting for standard predictors, such as sex and temperament. The results demonstrate the usefulness of applying concepts from life history theory to enhance our understanding of human behavior.

Key words

Community college students Family unreliability Future unpredictability beliefs Life expectancy Life history theory Risk-taking Socioeconomic resources 


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Copyright information

© Springer 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth M. Hill
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lisa Thomson Ross
    • 2
  • Bobbi S. Low
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of Detroit MercyDetroit
  2. 2.The University of MichiganUSA

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