Fast Thought Speed Induces Risk Taking

April 2012
With Jesse Chandler; Psychological Science, Vol. 23, No. 4

In two experiments, we tested for a causal link between thought speed and risk taking. In Experiment 1, we manipulated thought speed by presenting neutral-content text at either a fast or a slow pace and having participants read the text aloud. In Experiment 2, we manipulated thought speed by presenting fast-, medium-, or slow-paced movie clips that contained similar content. Participants who were induced to think more quickly took more risks with actual money in Experiment 1 and reported greater intentions to engage in real-world risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex and illegal drug use, in Experiment 2. These experiments provide evidence that faster thinking induces greater risk taking.