Humans have generally been considered risk averse for gains. Yet, growing evidence shows that risk preferences may change across reward currencies and depend on the type of tasks used to measure them. Here, we examined how context affects human risk preferences to shed light on the psychological mechanisms underlying human decision-making under risk. Participants were presented with a descriptive risky choice task involving repeated choices between real options and they were provided with trial-by-trial feedback. We manipulated the type of reward and, for the first time, the format of the choice stimuli. Options were either 2D computer-based images or concrete 3D objects, and participants received food or money as reward. First, we found that participants were more risk-seeking for food compared to money, suggesting that people treat money differently from consumable rewards. Second, we found that people were more risk-seeking when they made choices between concrete 3D objects than between 2D computer-based images. Our results strengthened the evidence that human choice patterns may change depending on the context and, for the first time, showed that the format of the choice stimuli does affect risk preferences, an important consideration for future research.
Behavioural Processes, vol. 176, July 2020