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Risky business: The differences between how men and women take risks

Posted on 09-25-15 in Behavioral Health

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The world since existence has been a flurry of gender wars and fights for equality. A woman of power is still a semi-new concept. Today not all women stay home to cook, clean and take care of the children. Today’s women are CEOs, doctors, lawyers, educated and breadwinners. Although the gender gap still exists, it is closing.

A major difference between the sexes, besides the obvious, is that men are bigger risk takers than women. Studies have shown that men are more inclined to make riskier decisions under stress, whereas women are more inclined to make less risky decisions under stress.  Men in general are more likely to have riskier jobs, play riskier sports and have more emergency room visits due to injuries than women.

The type of risk matters

Of course, many opinions exist and, according to some schools of thought, this idea is false. One paper extensively studied different types of risk taking behaviors among men and women, and the results were interesting.

In the health, recreational and gambling domains, women reported a lower likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors. In the social domain, these results were more mixed; women were likely to take more risks when it came to their friends, family and social status. The results were about equal among both genders. The reasons for this were not explored, but a theory may be that the nurturing component in women is instinctual. Women may be more likely to take more risks when it comes to protecting their children and loved ones.

The most important risk to take

Regardless of who is a bigger risk taker, what matters is that all individuals have the power to take a risk when it comes to standing up for themselves. This is important because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a subject that many are nervous to talk about but one that needs to be discussed. Domestic violence comes in all forms — physical, mental and emotional abuse. Men are more likely to use physical violence to gain control over a woman, but women are known to use emotional and mental domestic violence against their male partners.

Risk taking is a major component when it comes to leaving a domestic violence situation, but protecting yourself is worth that risk. Do not hesitate to call 911 if you are in immediate danger. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 800-799-7233, and can provide you with contact information to local shelters. Regardless of which gender takes more risks, it is important to shed awareness on the negative risks associated with domestic violence and the positive risks of protecting yourself.

If you or someone you know is battling adverse risks, such as drug use or a mental illness, Sovereign Health Group may be the place to seek help. For more information, call 888-530-4614.

Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer