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Project 4 - Updating Risk

Project 4 - Updating Risk: Mindsets, Post-decisional Defensiveness, and Dynamic Updating Processes in Risk Perception and Risk Taking (PI Prof. Dr. Peter Gollwitzer)

[Risiko aktualisieren – Bewusstseinslagen, Rechtfertigungstendenz nach Entscheidungen und dynamische Aktualisierungsprozesse in Risikowahrnehmung und -verhalten]


The aims of Project P4 pertain to the analysis of the dynamic interaction between goal striving and subjective risk perception, and the subsequent effects of this interaction on risk-taking behavior. Derived from the Mindset Theory of Action Phases (Gollwitzer, 1990, 2012), we want to induce deliberative and implemental mindsets. In line with the model of preparedness-exposure-coping-cycles (PEC) of risk perception, we postulate differences in the preparedness of individuals depending on the induced mindset. Furthermore, we propose that post-decisional defensiveness affects the consideration and incorporation of relevant risk information (coping) and the respective risk-taking behavior in a negative way. To advance the understanding of the dynamics of risk perceptions, we want to identify the critical mechanisms in the processing of risk feedback by means of different experimental task paradigms in three work programs (1-3) with three studies each.

In (1), this dynamic will be investigated by using the selective updating task paradigm. In Study 1a, we focus on changes in preparedness (caused by inducing one of the two mindsets) and the resulting dynamics while participants go through multiple PEC-cycles for various negative life events. In Study 1b, we will further analyze the underlying processes by inducing mindsets at different points of time within the PEC-cycles. Finally, in Study 1c we will investigate the effects of both mindsets on the course of risk perception and its translation into relevant risk-taking behavior. In (2), we will use experience-based risk situations to research the behavioral downstream consequences of changes in preparedness. In Study 2a, we will model the coping with feedback in a sequential risk-taking task as a consequence of the induced mindsets in close cooperation with P7 ‘Cumulative Risk’ (Prof. Hübner). In Study 2b, we will vary the relevance of the risk-taking behavior to the person’s self. In Study 2c, we will analyze the different coping strategies that the exposure to affect-rich vs. affect-poor decision contexts elicit. In (3), we plan to study the ramifications of post-decisional defensiveness concerning the dynamics of risk perception. In Studies 3a and 3b, we will investigate whether the re-deliberation of relevant decisions that have been made leads to changes in risk dynamics, and whether this can be triggered even by the re-deliberation of irrelevant decisions. In Study 3c, we will use the selective updating task once again to test whether the effects of post-decisional defensiveness on the dynamics of risk perception and risk-taking behavior are domain-specific (i.e., do not generalize to other domains of risk).


Prof. Dr. Peter Gollwitzer (PI)

Dr. Lucas Keller