When Pre-Schoolers Go to Wall Street

This finding & headline will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever visited a Wall Street trading floor:

Risk seeking behavior of preschool children in a gambling task

A recent neurobiology study showed that monkeys systematically prefer risky targets in a visual gambling task. We set a similar experiment with preschool children to assess their attitudes toward risk and found the children, like the monkeys, to be risk seeking. This suggests that adult humans are not born risk averse, but become risk averse. Our experiment also suggests that this behavioral change may be due to learning from negative experiences in their risky choices. We also showed that though emotional states and predetermined prenatal testosterone can influence children’s preferences toward risk, these factors could not override learning experiences.

 

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