Study co-authors Bernd Figner of Columbia University and the University of Amsterdam, and Elke Weber of Columbia University, say it is a common belief that women take fewer risks than men, and that adolescents always plunge in headlong without considering the consequences.
However, adolescents can be as cool-headed as anyone else, and in some realms, women take more risks than men.
"The typical view is that women take less risks than men, that it starts early in childhood, in all cultures, and so on," Figner says in a statement. "Men are willing to take more risks in finances. But women take more social risks -- a category that includes things like starting a new career in your mid-30s or speaking your mind about an unpopular issue in a meeting at work."
It seems this difference is because men and women perceive risks differently and that difference in perception may be partly because of how familiar they are with different situations, Figner says.
Differences in how boys and girls encounter the world as they're growing up may make them more comfortable with different kinds of risks, the study says.
The findings are published Current Directions in Psychological Science.