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18 April 2012
Male risk-taking unconstrained around babies

New research from the University of Warwick (UK) has found that unlike women, men don't curb certain risk-taking behaviors when a baby is present.

For the study, the male and female subjects played a gambling game either while alone or while paired with either an image of an attractive man, woman or baby with whom they imagined they would share their winnings.

The researchers found that while women are significantly more cautious when they are partnered with small children, men don't substantially alter their willingness to take a chance.

"Even though the women in the study were not the mothers of the babies they paired with, just having a baby involved in the game was enough to substantially change their behavior," the researchers note.

The researchers suggest that this could be due to evolutionary forces that select for men who are more competitive and risk-seeking in order to establish status and women who are more risk-averse in order to protect their offspring.

A second less surprising finding of the study was that men took more risks when partnered with other men - consistent with theories suggesting that men are driven to compete with other men in order to maximize their reproductive opportunities.

"To our knowledge this is the first study to look directly at the effect of babies on male and female risk-taking," said researcher Dr Thomas Hills. "It's as if babies turn off women's a willingness to take a risk - but interestingly the same doesn't apply to men."

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Source: University of Warwick

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