Reacting to unexpected losses in an uncertain world: High approach individuals become even more risk-seeking

Xiaoyue Tan*, Jan Willem Van Prooijen, Travis Proulx, Haizheng Wu, Ilja Van Beest, Paul A M Van Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Previous research has shown that people are risk-seeking in the face of losses. We propose that this risk-seeking orientation is a palliative approach response to deal with a discrepancy between people's desire to avoid losses versus the possibility of loss. An expectancy violation (which induces behavioral approach responses) would therefore strengthen people's risk-seeking in the context of losses. Two experiments (Study 1 and Study 2) which were conducted in the context of the Asian Disease Problem demonstrated that people high in trait behavioral approach (trait BA) were more risk-seeking following an expectancy violation (state BA) than in a control condition. As expected, this was only the case for decisions framed in terms of losses, but not in terms of gains (Study 1). Taken together, our findings highlight the interacting motivational influences of situation-induced state behavioral approach and trait behavioral approach in understanding risky decision-making in the face of losses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-123
Number of pages7
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date7 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2017


  • Behavioral approach
  • Expectancy violation
  • Losses
  • Risk taking


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