Risk Taking Behaviour Essay Example

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5Risk Taking Behaviour

Risk Taking Behaviour: Road Crossing



According to Pawlowski, Atwal and Dunbar (2008), evolutionary theory envisage that, in mating species, youthful males have a tendency of assuming risks in attempts to aid successful breeding compared to young females. Research has shown young human males to be more susceptible compared to females to assuming risks relating to conflict, sexual behaviour, drug taking, car driving, financial decisions and gambling. Females view risky situations as more stressful compared to males (Pawlowski, Atwal, & Dunbar, 2008). This paper focuses on a literature review of sex differences in risk taking behaviour at a signalized road crossing in order to show that there are more male pedestrians engaging in risk taking behaviour at the crossing than their female equals.

Sex differences in risk taking behaviours at pedestrian crossing

In Pawlowski, Atwal and Dunbar (2008), a study of people’s behaviours in a busy pedestrian crossing during midday was done. The study recorded several variables, such as sex, approximate age, the road’s risk state when the individual approached and when crossing, and sexes and number of all people on the crossing side of the subject. According to the study, more males were likely to cross the road when the risk state is high than females. The study was done over a period of three months, which is a great strength since it provides adequate time for consistent observation of the risky behaviour, which in turn enable the making of evidence-based and objective inferences. Moreover, the sample size is 500 males and 500 females, which though not very large, its results can be generalized over a bigger population. On the contrary, the study includes several variables, which poses difficulties in establishing the relationship between gender and risk taking in crossing the road.

Sueura et al. (2013) observed the behaviour of pedestrians in Inuyama, Japan and Strasbourg, France for two months both at signalized pedestrian crossings and sites without zebra crossing. From the study, French people took more risks than Japanese and males took more risk compared to females in Inuyama, while no sex differences where observed in Strasbourg. Carrying out a study in the two cities provides concrete results for easier generalization. However, the sample size in both cities does not contain proportional number of males and females, which subjects the results to bias.

According to Holland and Hill (2007), age interacts with gender in influencing risk behaviour in road crossing. Women had a less likelihood of intending to cross and perceived more danger compared to men. The study reviewed literature on factors influencing risk taking behaviour including gender, age, and intention. A sample size of 293 is not adequate for generalization purposes. Besides, former Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) questionnaires relating to road safety were used in designing the questionnaire. Relying on self-reports on the intention to cross the road when it is not safe to cross hinders making of objective inferences.

In Rosenbloom (2009), Chi-square test showed that males had a higher frequency of crossing on red light than females. The results are based on a sample size of 1392 pedestrians, which is appropriate for the results to be generalized over a large population. The main limitation of the study is the use of non proportional number of females and males in the sample.

Hamed (2001) notes several factors that influenced the number of attempts of crossing the streets and waiting time of pedestrian, including age, gender, crossing frequency, destination, access to personal vehicle, among others. More males showed less waiting time and more attempts for crossing the road than females. Nevertheless, the study is too general with many independent variables, which leads to difficulties in making conclusions.

According to Faria, Krause and Krause (2010), males had a tendency of following others when crossing the streets than females without considering whether the street was safe to cross. A sample size of 395 pedestrians is too small to be generalized over Leeds’ population of around 715,404. Drawing from Tom and Granié (2011), the rate of temporal road crossing compliance was lower in male pedestrians, but there was no gender difference in spatial road crossing compliance. The authors used unsignalized crossroads as controls in their study, which is significant in comparing results and making deductions.


Based on the literature review, the average number of male pedestrians crossing the road at a crossing with signals is considerably more compared to female counter parts. Most of the previous studies seem to use a number of variables besides gender. In future, there is a need to carry out a study that specifically addresses and focuses exclusively on gender as the influencing factor for risky road crossing.


Faria, J. J., Krause, S., & Krause, J. (2010). Collective behavior in road crossing pedestrians: the role of social information. Behavioral Ecology, 2010 (8), 1236-1242.

Hamed, M. M. (2001). Analysis of pedestrians’ behavior at pedestrian crossings. Safety Science, 38 (1), 63–82.

Holland, C., & Hill, R. (2007). The effect of age, gender and driver status on pedestrians’ intentions to cross the road in risky situations. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 39, 224–237.

Pawlowski, B., Atwal, R., & Dunbar, R. (2008). Sex Differences in Everyday Risk-Taking Behavior in Humans. Evolutionary Psychology, 6 (1), 29-42.

Rosenbloom, T. (2009). Crossing at a red light: Behaviour of individuals and groups. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 12 (5), 389–394.

Sueura, C., Classa, B., Hamma, C., Meyera, X., & Peléc, M. (2013). Different risk thresholds in pedestrian road crossing behaviour: A comparison of French and Japanese approaches. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 58, 59– 63.

Tom, A., & Granié, M. (2011). Gender differences in pedestrian rule compliance and visual search at signalized and unsignalized crossroads. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43 (5), 1794-801.