Examining Relations among Early-Life Stress, Deprivation, and Risk-Taking for Primary Resources
life history theory
AdvisorJacobs, William J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe following thesis presents the results of a mixed-design study (quasi-experimental and true experimental) testing an integrated model of human risk-taking behavior, defined statistically as a preference for variance in outcomes. The research presented examines the relationships among early-life environmental conditions (i.e., harshness and unpredictability), life-history strategy, and risk-taking behavior for primary resources under various "resource-budget" conditions consisting of deprivation and non-deprivation in two areas: (1) Social-inclusion and (2) caloric "Energy-budget." Two hundred and forty seven (N=247) university students participated in the research. In session one, participants completed multiple questionnaires assessing levels of environmental harshness and unpredictability experienced during development and individual life-history strategy. In session two, participants were pseudo-randomly assigned to experience laboratory induced deprivation or non-deprivation in one of two possible areas: Social-inclusion or caloric "Energy-budget." Following the experimental manipulations, participants played two different behavioral risk-taking tasks: (1) The Wheel Spin Risk Task which required participants to select between a low variance "safe" wheel and a high variance "risky" wheel in an attempt to earn either points or food rewards (depending upon study condition). (2) The Operant Risk Taking Task which required participants to select between a low variance "safe" keyboard key which produced constant rewards and a high variance "risky" keyboard key which produced variable rewards (points or food, depending upon study condition). The results of the multivariate analyses supported main effects only (no moderation) between the characteristics of the early-life environment, life-history strategy, and the experimental manipulations on risk-taking behavior. Specifically, early-life harshness was significantly associated with a faster life-history strategy in participants. Participants with a faster life-history strategy were significantly more likely to select the risky spin wheel on the Wheel Spin Risk Task than were slower life-history strategy participants who were more likely to select the safe spin wheel. Furthermore, participants who experienced the deprivation experimental manipulations behaved more risky on the Operant Risk-Taking Task (for reward amount) than did participants exposed to the non-deprivation manipulations in the study. Interestingly, this effect was domain-general in that deprivation in either Social-inclusion or Energy-budget was associated with risk taking for both social points and for food rewards. The results of this study suggest that life-history strategy is predictive of instrumental risk-taking behavior for reward amount and that deprivation in adaptive areas like Social-inclusion and Energy-budget enhances risk-taking behavior for primary rewards in a domain-general manner as opposed to a domain-specific manner.
Degree ProgramGraduate College