Men Take More Risks Than Women For Love

02/19/2013

JupiterimagesFrom The Princess Bride to Shrek, in the movies, men take whatever risks are necessary to attract their damsel in distress. But in real life, do men take extra risks for love? 

The answer is a resounding yes. Men are willing to take bigger risks than women once they’ve felt the unyielding pangs of love. 

According to the authors of a new study in the Journal of Risk Research, "in the evolutionary past, our ancestors were faced with a hazardous environment where they were forced to take greater risks in order to find shelter, food and sexual partners. Thus, individuals who played it safe in that they did not take any risks at all, were unlikely to survive."

The risks aren’t as glamorous as those in the movies. There’s no scaling vertical cliffs or playing poison mind games as in The Princess Bride. Less exciting, albeit dangerous behavior included unprotected sex, gambling, and reckless driving. 

According to Science Daily, in all three examples men were more likely than women to exhibit risky behavior for love. 

The study finds that risk taking isn’t just a pointless illustration of bravado, but rather, an inherited evolutionary trait.

In the evolutionary past, our ancestors were faced with a hazardous environment where they were forced to take great risks in order to find shelter, food, and sexual partners. Thus, individuals who played it safe, in that they did not take any risks at all, were unlikely to survive. From this view, risk-taking behavior is an inherited solution to enhance survival and reproduction. To be sure, pointless risk-taking did not and does not give a fitness advantage. Rather, risk-taking when the chances of gain are high should be favored by natural selection. In the present research, we propose that possible benefits in courtship may be such a gain that may evoke seemingly irrational risk-taking behavior.

 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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