Verbal and Nonverbal Cues to Risk-Taking


cometespre2People often attempt to ascertain how risky another person is willing to be. Even when this information is not purposely divulged, people may unwittingly broadcast their willingness to take risks by displaying cues to their level of certainty. Because subjective reports of feeling certain predict risk behavior, we examined whether targets’ certainty could be discerned unobtrusively and be used to predict their risky decisionmaking. In small groups, participants discussed two risk problems, made risk decisions, and then wrote an essay about their decision-making process. Participants’ nonverbal behavior and speech content during the group interaction, and their subsequent essay content were assessed by naı¨ve coders and objective word-count software for cues to certainty. Subjective assessments of nonverbal behavior and objective assessments of language content revealed that certainty cues predicted greater risk propensity. Therefore, across the three communication modalities of nonverbal behavior, speech, and text, more certainty cues revealed risky behavior.

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Published by Wesley G. Moons, Jennifer R. Spoor, Anne E. Kalomiris, Michael K. Rizk

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