The Effects of Risk-Promoting Media on Inclinations Toward Risk Taking
Three experiments examined whether exposure to risk-promoting media increases risk-related thoughts and behavioral inclinations. Participants were exposed to risk-promoting pictures (Study 1), movies (Study 2), and video games (Study 3) or a risk neutral control condition. Subsequently to exposure, accessibility of risk-taking cognitions and participants' inclinations to act in a risk-seeking manner was measured. In line with our expectations, all three studies revealed that risk-promoting media content increases the accessibility of risk-taking cognitions (Studies 1 and 3), risk taking in a computer-based driving simulator (Study 2), as well as risk taking in decision making scenarios (Study 3). Mediational analyses clarified the underlying psychological process: Risk-promoting media content increases the accessibility of risk-promoting cognitions, which in turn results in increased risk-taking inclinations. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.