Power-control theory, at its most abstract level, links gender differences in risk preference to patriarchal family structures. In previous studies, direct tests have focused on adolescent delinquency, which is a specific form of risk-taking, and have used measures of risk preference specific to delinquency. In the present article, we introduce evidence for more general power-control theory hypotheses by employing a more global measure of risk preference and analyzing data from a sample of adults. We have found that among adults who were raised in more patriarchal families, females have a significantly lower taste for risk, globally defined, than males, and that such a gender difference does not appear among adults who were raised in less patriarchal families. The findings provide a basis for expanding the scope of power-control theory beyond adolescent delinquency to include the gender patterning, and changes over time in that patterning, of a wide range of risk-taking behaviors among adults, including risks that are socially and culturally valued.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science