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Why Women Take Fewer Risk Than Men Do: The Mediating Role of State Anxiety

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Gender studies have showed that women take fewer risks than men do. Previous research has also provided evidence for a link between negative affect (anxiety and depressive mood) and risk-taking. Little is known about the relationships among these factors. We examined the role of state anxiety in the relationship between gender and risk-taking. Fully 149 undergraduate students filled out the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the Beck Depression Inventory–II (BDI) before playing the hot version of the Columbia Card Task (hot CCT), which is designed to measure emotionally based risk-taking behavior. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that gender and state anxiety were associated with risk-taking even when controlling for age, depressive mood, and trait anxiety. Moreover, results pointed out that gender is related to risk-taking through state anxiety. These results offer insights into gender research, as well as affective and decision science. Implications for future studies and applied interventions are discussed.

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Correspondence to Angelo Panno.

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Panno, A., Donati, M.A., Milioni, M. et al. Why Women Take Fewer Risk Than Men Do: The Mediating Role of State Anxiety. Sex Roles 78, 286–294 (2018).

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  • Gender
  • State anxiety
  • Trait anxiety
  • Depressive mood
  • Risk-taking
  • Affective processes