When my children were young, I did my best to hold firm when they repeatedly asked for that sweet treat right before dinner. I quickly learned that my first answer should always be my last answer. Why? Very simply, if my children sense the slightest chance that I would change my mind, they would whine relentlessly in hopes of a “long shot”. Even at an early age, we are all gamblers.
As adults, we often take unreasonable risks – some large and some small. Whether to claim the “prize” or to avoid potential loss, this risk-taking behavior is more tempting as the reward increases. Psychologists have studied this type of behavior for decades. Jumping into dangerous waters to save a drowning victim – only to have subsequent rescuers jump in to accomplish the same unlikely feat – is a classic example of how we judge that a large reward somehow justifies an unreasonable risk.
To a lesser extent, we gamble everyday. We might text while driving. We might eat too much of the wrong foods. We might lead a sedentary life. We might disregard routine health maintenance. In essence, we often overestimate the reward or underestimate the risk. Anything that jeopardizes the reward of good health is an unreasonable risk.