Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 314–321 | Cite as

Assessment of Male Physical Risk-Taking Behavior in a Sample of Russian Men and Women

  • Yulia ApalkovaEmail author
  • Marina L. Butovskaya
  • Natalia Bronnikova
  • Valentina Burkova
  • Todd K. Shackelford
  • Bernhard Fink
Research Article


Research has documented sex differences in risk-taking behavior, and young men in particular are more prone than women to engage in activities associated with physical risks. Evolutionary scientists have proposed that this sex difference is a consequence of male competition over mating opportunities. Thus, mating motives promote risk-taking in men more than in women. Here, we report analyses of assessments of male physical risk-taking in a Russian sample (n = 546). Men and women judged vignettes describing men who differed in risk-taking propensity for short- and long-term attractiveness, provisioning quality, and aggression. Risk-taking propensity had an effect on all attributes. Occasional (but not high) risk-takers received the highest ratings on short-term attractiveness. Low risk-takers were judged highest on long-term attractiveness and provisioning quality. High risk-takers were judged as more aggressive than occasional and low risk-takers. Thus, male risk-taking behavior affects assessments of male quality, but high risk-taking is not regarded as positive. We discuss the results with reference to evolutionary investigations of risk-taking behavior and cultural characteristics of masculinity ideology.


Risk-taking Perception Attractiveness Aggression Provisioning quality Men Russia 


Funding Information

This research was supported by a grant from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), grant no. 17-29-02203, and by the German Research Foundation grant no. FI1450/7-2. This study was conducted within the scope of the program of fundamental studies of the National Research University High School of Economics.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Apicella, C. L., Crittenden, A. N., & Tobolksy, V. A. (2017). Hunter-gatherer males are more risk-seeking than females, even in late childhood. Evolution and Human Behavior, 38, 592–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ariely, D., & Loewenstein, G. (2006). The heat of the moment: the effect of sexual arousal on sexual decision making. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 19, 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, M. D. J., & Maner, J. K. (2008). Risk-taking as a situationally sensitive male mating strategy. Evolution and Human Behavior, 29, 391–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker, M. D. J., & Maner, J. K. (2009). Male risk-taking as a context-sensitive signaling device. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1136–1139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bassett, J. F., & Moss, B. (2004). Men and women prefer risk takers as romantic and nonromantic partners. Current Research in Social Psychology, 9, 133–144.Google Scholar
  6. Bliege Bird, R., Smith, E. A., & Bird, D. W. (2001). The hunting handicap: costly signaling in human foraging strategies. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 50, 9–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buss, D. M. (1994). The evolution of desire: strategies of human mating. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. Butovskaya, M. L., & Smirnov, O. V. (2004). Why sex matters? Differences in long-term mate preferences in Russia. L'Anthropologie, 42, 205–214.Google Scholar
  9. Byrnes, J. P., Miller, D. C., & Schafer, W. D. (1999). Gender differences in risk-taking: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 367–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cockerham, W. C. (2000). Healthy lifestyles in Russia. Social Science and Medicine, 51, 1313–1324.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Farthing, G. W. (2005). Attitudes toward heroic and nonheroic physical risk takers as mates and as friends. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26, 171–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Farthing, G. W. (2007). Neither daredevils nor wimps: attitudes toward physical risk takers as mates. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 754–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fessler, D. M. T., Ziokhin, L. B., Hoolbrook, C., Gervais, M. M., & Snyder, J. K. (2014). Foundations of the Crazy Bastard Hypothesis: nonviolent physical risk-taking enhances conceptualized formidability. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35, 26–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Finch, J. (1987). The vignette technique in survey research. Sociology, 21, 105–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gray, P. B., & Anderson, K. G. (2010). Fatherhood: evolution and human parental behavior. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Greitmeyer, T., Kastenmüller, A., & Fischer, P. (2013). Romantic motives and risk-taking: an evolutionary approach. Journal of Risk Research, 16, 19–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., Sundie, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., Miller, G. F., & Kenrick, D. T. (2007). Blatant benevolence and conspicuous consumption: when romantic motives elicit strategic costly signals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 85–102.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., Gangestad, S. W., Perea, E. F., Shapiro, J. R., & Kenrick, D. T. (2009). Aggress to impress: hostility as an evolved context-dependent strategy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 980–994.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Harris, C. R., Jenkins, M., & Glaser, D. (2006). Gender differences in risk assessment: why do women take fewer risks than men? Judgement and Decision Making, 1, 48–63.Google Scholar
  20. Hawkes, K. (1991). Showing off: test of an hypothesis about men’s foraging goals. Ethology and Sociobiology, 12, 29–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hillier, L. M., & Morrongiello, B. A. (1998). Age and gender differences in school-age children’s appraisals of injury risk. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 23, 229–238.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  23. Hosker-Field, A. M., Molnar, D. S., & Book, A. S. (2016). Psychopathy and risk-taking: examining the role of risk-perception. Personality and Individual Differences, 91, 123–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kelly, S., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2001). Who dares, wins: Heroism versus altruism in women’s mate choice. Human Nature, 12, 89-105.Google Scholar
  25. Kruger, D. J., & Nesse, R. M. (2004). Sexual selection and the male:female mortality ratio. Evolutionary Psychology, 2, 66–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kruger, D., & Nesse, D. (2006). An evolutionary life-history framework for understanding sex-differences in human mortality rates. Human Nature, 17, 74–97.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kruger, D., Wang, X. T., & Wilke, A. (2007). Towards the development of an evolutionary valid domain-specific risk-taking scale. Evolutionary Psychology, 5, 555–568.Google Scholar
  28. Levant, R. F., Cuthbert, A., Richmond, K., Sellers, A., Matveev, A., Mitina, O., …, Heesacker, M. (2003). Masculinity ideology among Russian and U.S. young men and women and its relationships to unhealthy lifestyles habits among young Russian men. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 4, 26–36.Google Scholar
  29. McSweeney, B. (2002). The essentials of scholarship: a reply to Gert Hofstede. Human Relations, 55, 1363–1372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meshcherkina, E. (1996). Vvedie v antologiiu myzhskoi zhizni (introduction to an anthology of masculine life). In V. Semenova & E. Foteeva (Eds.), Syd’by Liudei: Rossiia XX Vek (pp. 298–325). Moscow: Institut Sotziologii RAN.Google Scholar
  31. Patton, G. C., Coffey, C., Sawyer, S. M., Viner, R. M., Haller, D. M., Bose, K., …, Mathers, C. D. (2009). Global patterns of mortality in young people: a systematic analysis of population health data. The Lancet, 374,881–892.Google Scholar
  32. Pawlowski, B., Atwal, R., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2008). Sex differences in everyday risk-taking behavior in humans. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 29–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Petraitis, J. M., Lampman, C. B., Boeckmann, R. J., & Falconer, E. M. (2014). Sex differences in the attractiveness of hunter-gatherer and modern risks. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44, 442–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pridemore, W. A. (2002). Vodka and violence: alcohol consumption and homicide in Russia. Public Health Matters, 92, 1921–1930.Google Scholar
  35. Shan, W., Shenghua, J., Davis, H. M., Peng, K., Shao, X., Wu, Y., …, Wang, Y. (2012). Mating strategies I Chinese culture: female risk avoiding vs. male risk-taking. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33, 182–192.Google Scholar
  36. Smith, E. A., Bliege Bird, R., & Bird, D. W. (2001). The benefits of costly signaling: Meriam turtle hunters. Behavioral Ecology, 14, 116–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Snyder, J. K., Fessler, D. M. T., Tiokhin, L., Frederick, D. A., Lee, S. W., & Navarrete, C. D. (2011). Trade-offs in a dangerous world: women’s fear of crime predicts preference for aggressive and formidable mates. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32, 127–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stack, S., & Bankowski, E. (1994). Divorce and drinking: an analysis of Russian data. Journal of Marriage and Family, 56, 805–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sylwester, K., & Pawlowski, B. (2011). Daring to be darling: attractiveness of risk takers as partners in long- and short-term sexual relationships. Sex Roles, 64, 695–706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871–1971 (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  41. Waldron, I. (1997). Changing gender roles and gender differences in health behavior. In G. S. Goodman (Ed.), Handbook of health behavior and research I: personal and social determinants (pp. 303–328). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  42. Weber, E. U., Blais, A., & Betz, E. N. (2002). A domain-specific attitude risk-attitude scale: measuring risk perception and risk behaviors. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 15, 263–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wilke, A., Hutchinson, J. M. C., Todd, P. M., & Kruger, D. (2006). Is risk taking a cue in mate choice? Evolutionary Psychology, 4, 367–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wilke, A., Sherman, A., Curdt, B., Mondal, S., Fitzgerald, C., & Kruger, D. (2014). An evolutionary domain-specific risk scale. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 8, 123–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (1985). Competitiveness, risk taking and violence: the young male syndrome. Ethology and Sociobiology, 6, 59–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilson, M., & Daly, M. (2004). Do pretty women inspire men to discount the future? Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Science, 271, S177–S179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Zardidze, D., Lewington, S., Boroda, A., Scélo, G., Karpov, R., Lazarev, A., …., Peto, R. (2014). Alcohol and mortality in Russia: prospective observational study of 151,000 adults. The Lancet, 383, 1465–1473.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yulia Apalkova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marina L. Butovskaya
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Natalia Bronnikova
    • 1
  • Valentina Burkova
    • 1
  • Todd K. Shackelford
    • 4
  • Bernhard Fink
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute of Ethnology and AnthropologyRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussian Federation
  2. 2.Social Anthropology Research and Education CentreRussian State University for HumanitiesMoscowRussian Federation
  3. 3.High School of EconomicsNational Research UniversityMoscowRussian Federation
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA
  5. 5.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of GoettingenGoettingenGermany
  6. 6.Leibniz ScienceCampus Primate CognitionGoettingenGermany

Personalised recommendations