The current study investigated whether manipulating participants’ pre-exposure to reward and punishment affects the extent to which sensation seeking and values predict risk-taking behavior. Participants (n = 195) were randomly allocated to one of two conditions, defined by the order at which they were rewarded or punished for risk-taking behavior. Risk-taking behavior was measured in both conditions using the Balloon Analogue Risk Test, however this was set-up such that participants in group 1 were rewarded for risk-taking behavior prior to being punished, whereas participants in group 2 were punished for risk-taking behavior prior to being rewarded. Participants also completed questionnaires designed to measure sensation seeking and the values of ‘stimulation’ (the need for novelty and excitement) and ‘hedonism’ (the need for sensuous pleasure). It was found that stimulation predicted risk taking behavior in the ‘reward-then-punishment’ condition, whereas hedonism predicted risk-taking behavior in the ‘punishment-then-reward’ condition. Sensation-seeking was found to be an indirect predictor of risk-taking behavior in both conditions. It is tentatively concluded that the extent to which an individual’s risk-taking behavior is guided by their values (hedonism, stimulation) largely depends on their prior exposure to the order of contingent reward and punishment.


personality, approach motivation, sensation seeking, BART, risk-taking behavior, hedonism, stimulation, values

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