You’d expect that something like buying a winning lottery ticket would cause us to take MORE risks in the future, but it doesn’t work that way. And an unexpected loss works the same way. It turns out that it’s not whether you win or lose, but whether the outcome is expected that’s relevant here. People appear to decrease their risk-taking levels after experiencing any surprising outcome–even positive ones.
The researchers had 59 participants play the high-risk computerized gambling game and surprised the participants with some big wins. Psychologist Heath Demaree says, "Surprising events are known to cause animals to stop, freeze, orient to the surprising stimulus and update their schemas of how the world works. Our recent research suggests that surprising events also cause people to temporarily reduce risk-taking."
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