“Take care, honey!”: People are more anxious about their significant others' risk behavior than about their own
Journal Paper/Review - Jan 1, 2020
Ghassemi Tabrizi Mirjam, Bernecker Katharina, Brandstätter Veronika
This research investigated people's affective reaction to and cognitive evaluation of risks taken by close others. Five experimental studies showed that individuals were more anxious when a significant other (e.g., their partner) intended to engage in behavior implying risk to health or safety than when they intended to engage in the same behavior themselves. This discrepancy did not emerge if the other was emotionally distant (e.g., an acquaintance), suggesting that the self-other discrepancy in anxiety is moderated by the quality of the relationship. Neither a perceived higher personal control, nor a perceived lower probability of encountering negative events, as suggested by research on self-other biases in risk assessment, accounted for the effect. However, it was partially mediated by individuals' tendency to imagine more severe consequences of others' (vs. own) risk behavior. Results are discussed with regard to their theoretical implications for the study of risk taking and close relationships.