The University of Michigan research refutes the standard theories of risk that group people as either risk-seeking or risk-avoiding, and suggests that we can have a mix of both risky and non-risky behaviour depending on the type. But, the survey also shows that men are significantly riskier than women overall.

"People are complex," says Daniel Kruger, research scientist at the U-M School of Public Health. "Just because somebody seems to be a big risk taker in one area doesn’t mean they will take risks in all areas." The types of risks identified included competition with other individuals; competition with other groups; mating and allocating resources for mate attraction; environmental risks (chasing a bear or skydiving); and fertility risks.

People surveyed for the study were least likely to take fertility risks, and most likely to take risks related to social status in one's group - like standing up to one's boss. In all domains, men were significantly more risk taking than women. During human evolution, men competed for social status and resources in order to attract mates. The risks that threaten fertility function differently than the others, Kruger said. Other types of risk have a possible benefit in terms of survival and reproduction. But with fertility risks, there is just a threat to reproduction. They can only cause harm in the evolutionary sense since they would only hurt our ability to procreate.

Although in most parts of the world, threats from predators may be limited to those making wilderness expeditions, we still live in a world with complex challenges involving other individuals and material investments. The basic elements of our social environment have not changed; we just live on a much larger scale.; Source: University of Michigan