Presentation Title

Using life insurance policies to test effects of mortality risk on present- vs. future oriented behavioral strategies

Faculty Mentor

Aaron Lukaszewski

Start Date

23-11-2019 10:45 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 11:30 AM

Location

42

Session

poster 4

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Formal theoretical models in behavioral biology predict that individuals with greater mortality risk are more present-oriented than individuals with lower mortality risk. Because individuals with a greater risk of dying face probabilistically shorter futures, natural selection would favor mechanisms that calibrate one's prioritization of present (vs. future) goals and reproduction to variation in mortality risk. Present- vs. future orientation influences many decisions, therefor variation on this fundamental life history continuum is expected to manifest across a wide range of behavioral traits, from mating strategies to resource acquisition strategies to risk avoidance strategies. Although much previous research has tested associations between proxies for mortality risk with psychological and behavioral traits, empirical assessments of mortality risk have been less than compelling. To advance research in this area, our team ran a pilot study in which we had people with life insurance policies look up their mortality risk rating assigned by the insurer and complete a battery of surveys to assess psychological and behavioral indicators of present- vs. future orientation. These results suggest that people with higher mortality risk (i) expect to die younger, (ii) are more likely to pursue uncommitted mating strategies, and (iii) exhibit a range of present-oriented behavioral indicators (e.g., risky behavior, impulsivity, etc.). We will further replicate these findings with a large community study in which life insurance policy owners complete an in-depth battery of surveys. To extend the results further, participants will also provide standardized photographs, video clips, and vocal samples to test whether people can accurately estimate others’ mortality risk from visual and auditory cues.

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Nov 23rd, 10:45 AM Nov 23rd, 11:30 AM

Using life insurance policies to test effects of mortality risk on present- vs. future oriented behavioral strategies

42

Formal theoretical models in behavioral biology predict that individuals with greater mortality risk are more present-oriented than individuals with lower mortality risk. Because individuals with a greater risk of dying face probabilistically shorter futures, natural selection would favor mechanisms that calibrate one's prioritization of present (vs. future) goals and reproduction to variation in mortality risk. Present- vs. future orientation influences many decisions, therefor variation on this fundamental life history continuum is expected to manifest across a wide range of behavioral traits, from mating strategies to resource acquisition strategies to risk avoidance strategies. Although much previous research has tested associations between proxies for mortality risk with psychological and behavioral traits, empirical assessments of mortality risk have been less than compelling. To advance research in this area, our team ran a pilot study in which we had people with life insurance policies look up their mortality risk rating assigned by the insurer and complete a battery of surveys to assess psychological and behavioral indicators of present- vs. future orientation. These results suggest that people with higher mortality risk (i) expect to die younger, (ii) are more likely to pursue uncommitted mating strategies, and (iii) exhibit a range of present-oriented behavioral indicators (e.g., risky behavior, impulsivity, etc.). We will further replicate these findings with a large community study in which life insurance policy owners complete an in-depth battery of surveys. To extend the results further, participants will also provide standardized photographs, video clips, and vocal samples to test whether people can accurately estimate others’ mortality risk from visual and auditory cues.