Why Do People Take Risks?

Several factors influence the likelihood of individuals taking risks, including genetics, time of life such as adolescence, level of happiness and even exposure to or lack of exposure to sunlight. People take risks of many kinds, such as financial investments and skydiving. Some people go through periods of risk-taking during certain times of their lives, while others have genetic codes making long-term risk-taking likely.

Some motives for taking risks stem from environmental conditions. The time of year and amount of sunlight influence the probability of risky actions. Long daylight hours and more exposure to sunlight, according to researchers, leads to riskier behavior. People, particularly inhabitants of northern countries, engage in risky activities during the spring and summer months. Come winter, however, people adopt conservative behaviors. Certain life periods, primarily adolescence, stimulate risky behavior. Adolescents and teenagers, for instance, engage in riskier activities than young children and adults. For some, however, taking risks stems from genetic makeup. Regardless of age, people with a gene called DRD4, which regulates hormones controlling feelings of reward, take a high number of risks. Research also indicates that daily sleep routines influence risk-taking too. People going to sleep late (and more so women than men) engage in impulsive activities. Sleep deprivation encourages risky behavior, while getting enough sleep and rising early reduces the likelihood of taking chances.