Do we become more cautious for others when large amounts of money are at stake?

Eamonn Ferguson, Eleonore Batteux, Richard Tunney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A considerable proportion of financial decisions are made by agents acting on behalf of other people. Although people are more cautious for others when making medical decisions, this does not seem to be the case for economic decisions. However, studies with large amounts of money are particularly absent from the literature, which precludes a clear comparison to studies in the medical domain. To address this gap, we investigated the effect of outcome magnitude in two experiments where participants made choices between safe and risky options. Decision-makers were not more cautious for others over large amounts. In fact, risk-taking was accentuated for large amounts in the gain domain. We did not find self-other differences in the loss domain for either outcome magnitude. This suggests that the caution observed in medical decisions does not replicate in financial decisions with large amounts, or at least not in the same way. These results echo the concerns that have been raised about excessive risk-taking by financial agents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32–40
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 Hogrefe Publishing. This version of the article may not completely replicate the final authoritative version published in Experimental Psychology at 10.1027/1618-3169/a000508. It is not the version of record and is therefore not suitable for citation. Please do not copy or cite without the permission of the author(s).

Funding: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research
Council (grant number ES/J500100/1), an ESRC postgraduate
studentship to Eleonore Batteux.


  • DMFO
  • outcome magnitude
  • risk preferences
  • surrogate decision-making


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