Gender Differences in Risk-Taking Behaviors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis




Vela, Rheanna B.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, a systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted for the primary purpose of examining sex differences on the frequently used Domain-Specific Risk-Taking (DOSPERT) scale that assesses risk taking in the following domains: financial, health/safety, recreational, ethical, and social decisions. A secondary purpose of this research was to determine whether any such sex differences have decreased over the past 20 years or are lower for older individuals. A total of 12 research databases, including PsycINFO, were searched for sources meeting the eligibility criteria of including an original quantitative research study that examined sex differences on the DOSPERT scale. This search yielded 63 possible sources that were screened, 24 of which met the eligibility criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. The following data were recorded for each of the eligible studies: number of males and females in the sample, mean DOSPERT subscale scores for males and females, and the statistical results on the sex differences for each subscale. Cohen’s d and the corresponding variance were computed based upon these values. Data were also recorded for the following study characteristics: publication year, type of source, sampling procedure, and sample demographics including age. For each of the five DOSPERT subscales, a random-effects meta-analysis was conducted to assess overall sex differences, and a subsequent meta-regression was conducted to assess whether the mean d values were related either to publication year or to mean age for the studies. The meta-analysis results revealed that although there were no significant sex differences on the Social subscale (d = -0.02, p =.66), males did exhibit greater risk taking than females for the other four DOSPERT subscales: Financial (d = 0.43, p < .001), Health/Safety (d = 0.41, p < .001), Recreational (d = 0.39, p < .001), and Ethical (d = 0.35, p < .001). The meta-regression results indicated that these d values were not related either to publication year or to mean age for the different studies, for any of the subscales. These results are consistent with previous studies indicating that males engage in more risk-taking behaviors than females. The lack of significant relationships with publication year and sample age may suggest that these sex differences have not decreased over time or diminished with age/maturity, although the range in publication years and mean age across the samples may have been too restricted to adequately test these hypotheses. Further research should examine risk taking among a wider range of participant ages, as well as examine risk taking in criminal populations and in sexual and gender minority populations.



gender differences, risk-taking


Vela, R. B. (2023). Gender differences in risk-taking behaviors: A systematic review and meta-analysis (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI