Men more likely to take ‘idiotic risks’: Study

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New York | Published: December 14, 2014 4:07 PM

Men are more likely than women to engage in risky behaviour that is extremely "idiotic," according to a new study...

Men are more likely than women to engage in risky behaviour that is extremely “idiotic,” according to a new study.

Researchers in the study reviewed the data on winners of the Darwin Award and found that the majority of the receivers of a Darwin Award are men.

To win a Darwin Award a person must die in “an extraordinarily idiotic manner,” and thereby protect the human gene pool and improve the species’ chances of long-term survival, ‘LiveScience’ reported.

In a special Christmas issue of the journal BMJ, researchers in the UK used the Darwin Award database to examine an idea they call “male idiot theory,” to see whether men’s generally higher inclination for risk-taking extends to taking “idiotic risks.”

The study defined idiotic risks as senseless risks, where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and often final.

The researchers reviewed the stories of all nominees for the Darwin Award from 1995 to 2014, noting the gender of the winner.

To win a Darwin Award, the story of how the death happened must be verifiable, and the person must have been capable of sound judgment, while showing “an astonishing misapplication of common sense.”

For example, one person in the study was a “terrorist who posted a letter bomb with insufficient postage stamps and who, on its return, unthinkingly opened his own letter,” the researchers wrote.

Another man stole a ride home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, only to be dragged two miles to his death before the train was able to stop.

The researchers looked at 332 cases confirmed by the Darwin Awards Committee to be true incidents. For their analysis, they excluded 14 cases of deaths of adventurous couples, leaving them with 318 cases.

Of those, just 36 were women. The other 282 winners, or 88.7 per cent, were men, the researchers found.

The findings support the ‘male idiot theory’ that “men are idiots, and idiots do stupid things,” researchers said.

The theory could also explain some of the gender gap previous studies have found in risk-seeking behaviours, emergency department visits and mortality, the researchers said.

Men are more likely than women to be admitted to an emergency department after accidental injuries or with a sport injury, and they are more likely to die in traffic accidents.

Men may be more likely to play riskier sports or have dangerous occupations, but they might also do more stupid things, the study said.

Researchers admitted that it is also possible that the makeup of Darwin Award winners is biased toward men because cases involving women may not get reported as often.

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