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Research Presentation

Fri., Apr. 15, 2016 2:00 p.m. - Fri., Apr. 15, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Location: Education Building, Room 560

Research Talk. April 15, 2 - 3 pm (ED 560). Refreshments & sweets will be available.

Hail Mary time: risk-sensitive decision-making in football teams

- Josh Gonzales, Sandeep Mishra, Ron Camp

Abstract: Risk-sensitivity theory predicts that decision-makers should prefer high-risk options in high need situations when low-risk options will not meet these needs. Recent attempts to adopt risk-sensitivity as a framework for understanding human decision-making have been promising. However, this research has focused only on individual-level decision-making, has not examined behavior in naturalistic settings, and has not examined the influence of multiple levels of need on decision-making under risk. We examined group-level risk-sensitive decision-making in two American football leagues: the National Football League (NFL) and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA)  Division I. Decisions from the 2012 NFL (Study 1; *N* = 33,944), 2013 NFL (Study 2; *N* = 34,087), and 2012 NCAA (Study 3; *N* = 15,250) regular seasons were analyzed. Results demonstrate that teams made risk-sensitive decisions based on two distinct needs: attaining first downs (a key proximate goal in football) and acquiring points above parity. Evidence for risk-sensitive decisions was particularly strong when motivational needs were most salient. These findings are the first empirical demonstration of team risk-sensitivity in a naturalistic organizational setting.

Embodied Capital and Domain-Specific Risk-Taking

- Dallas Novakowski, Sandeep Mishra

Abstract: Risk-taking behaviour, defined as exposing oneself to variance in outcomes, can occur in many domains, such as criminal behaviour, heroic acts, and extreme sport participation. However, risk-taking has often been considered as a domain-general behaviour, rather than as an act engaged in a highly selective manner. Specialized risk-taking has been associated with individual differences in personality, with traits such as impulsivity and sensation seeking distinguishing criminals from heroes and extreme sports participants. Beyond personality, potentially important individual differences have been neglected, such as embodied capital, which influences effective social competition. This collection of innate qualities, including intelligence, strength, coordination, and attractiveness plays a pivotal role in gaining status, resources, and desirable sexual partners. The current study examines whether selective or generalized participation in antisocial, prosocial, and amoral risk-taking differs among individuals as a function of embodied capital. By understanding the relationship between embodied capital and the specificity or universality of risk-taking, these behaviours may be better understood not merely as the byproduct of a ‘risky personality’ but, rather, as a functional and deeply rational response to the interaction between an individual and their environment.