Would you go skydiving or take the more challenging route on a hike? Is your usual response “yes”? Do you often ask, “why not”, instead of “why”? Then, you might just be a risk-taker!
Click start to play today’s Word Search, where the word ‘risk’ has us wondering just how differently our brains are wired when we are more adventurous in our behaviour.
Studies show that our propensity to take risks alters the white matter in our brains. White matter is the name given to the brain’s neural network, which transmits signals that are crucial to the internal communication between different areas of the brain. White matter also analyses and transmits information in an efficient way, and if unravelled, it can stretch for about 160,000km!
According to a 2015 study by the University of Turku in Finland, brain scans of people who made quick decisions and took chances during driving simulations revealed that they had significantly more white matter than those who hesitated, evaluated the situation and opted to drive safely. People who were more daring and willing to take risks also challenged their brains’ capacity to learn, develop, and come up with coping strategies.
Interestingly, the group tested in the Finnish study comprised only men between the ages 18 and 19. According to a 2013 report in the US-based Harvard Business Review, men are more likely to take risks than women, simply because of the way their brains compute risk and prepare for action.
And this inclination is even more obvious during times of stress. In a 2012 study published in US-based journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, in stressful situations, men’s risk-taking behaviour tends to increase, while in the case of women, it tends to decrease.
The implications of the study extend to today’s work environments, too – are men potentially too reckless and women too cautious? Would decisions made together work better than decisions taken separately in such situations?