Presentation by Ofir Turel, Professor of IS and Decision Sciences, College of Business and Economics, California State University, Fullerton, and Scholar in Residence at the Decision Neuroscience Program, Dept. of Psychology, University of Southern California (USC)
Manipulating Online Risk Behaviors through Foraging Theory Insights. Animals change their risk preferences during foraging based on their perceived need for caloric energy intake; they become more risk prone when the need is exacerbated. Humans follow the same pattern concerning financial rewards; when inequality in financial gains is high, people feel that they are dissatisfied with their gains, they need more money to be satisfied, and ultimately take larger financial risks. Given the growing prevalence of online risk taking (e.g., taking selfies on the edge of a cliff, and posting selfies while driving) and the need to understand and prevent such behaviors, I extend the abovementioned ideas rooted in foraging and risk-sensitivity theories to explain online risk taking by information systems (IS) and specifically social media users. I test these assertions in three studies (total of 1,051 social media users), all of which manipulate inequality of information, and each of which focuses on a different “online foraging” behavior (chasing after “likes” through profile picture posting, birthday wishes through birthday picture posting, and social attention through sharing politically-oriented opinion pieces, in studies 1, 2 and 3, respectively). The findings quite consistently support the assertions and provide important theoretical and practical implications.