30 March 2021

Cosmopolitan Cities Attract Risk Takers

It is a well established and nearly universal law of economics that productivity per capita scales with urban density. One reason for this is that these cities attract risk takers.
Some metropolitan areas (e.g., Berlin, New York) have a cosmopolitan culture. That is, they serve as centers of economic development and value diversity, creativity, and equality. These areas offer economic and creative opportunities that are open to anyone willing to take a risk. Therefore, such cities may attract people who are high in risk-taking. 
We first showed that real-world risk-taking is more common in cities with a more cosmopolitan culture (Study 1). Second, we found that people who are more prone to risk-taking as measured by self-report (Studies 2a and 2b) and observed behavior (Study 3, preregistered) have greater preferences for cosmopolitan cities as residential destinations. Third, we tested a causal link between risk-taking and preference for cosmopolitan cities. Inducing a prevention focus (known to inhibit risk-taking) reduced people’s desire to settle in cosmopolitan cities (Study 4). We discuss implications for economic growth and migration to cosmopolitan cities.
Timur Sevincer et al. , "Risky Business: Cosmopolitan Culture and Risk-Taking" Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, forthcoming (Hat Tip: Kevin Lewis).

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