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Browsing by Subject "Balloon Analogue Risk Task"

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  • Vepsäläinen, Juha (2014)
    The most common behavioral tasks used to assess risk-taking, the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), have been moderately successful in predicting various kinds of real-life risk behaviors. Both tasks involve repeated choices between options that are presented according to the metaphor of the task (a deck of cards in the IGT, the number of pumps to a balloon in the BART). The options differ from each other in respect of the amounts and probabilities of rewards and penalties, and hence also in respect of riskiness and expected return. Typically, the choices made differ from the profit maximizing optimum stated by decision theory, with nearly every subject's risk-taking greater (in the IGT) or lesser (in the BART) than optimal. In this setting, greater risk-taking in IGT results in lower average return, while in the BART greater risk-taking results in higher average return. Risk-taking and return are thus confounded, which can lead to invalid conclusions: a difference between groups in risk-taking may be interpreted as a difference in risk-taking propensity, even if it is really caused by a difference in profit optimizing ability, for example. A new computer based behavioral risk-taking task was developed for this research. The Helsinki Aiming Task (HAT) was designed by combining IGT and BART features with Näätänen and Summala's dart throwing task, which simulated behavior in hazardous activities. In the HAT, the subjects used an inaccurate gun to shoot at targets that included reward and penalty regions. The statistical information relevant to the task was given to the subjects not by means of numerical description but by means of visual feedback, i.e. experience. Based on a study (n = 51), the HAT was compared to the BART and its feasibility as a measure of risk-taking propensity was evaluated. Manipulation of both the severity and the probability of the harm had an impact on aiming, which was the basis for concluding that the subjects formed an internal model of the risk. This supports the view that the HAT is measuring risk-taking propensity. The results also offered reasonable evidence of the reliability of the task. Since the level of risk-taking in the HAT didn't deviate from the optimum, the confounding of risk-taking and profit in the HAT was assessed to be less severe than in the BART.