Do you take bigger risks when you’re happy or unhappy? Logically, you should take bigger risks when you’re unhappy. There’s less to lose, since you’re already unhappy, and the thrill of the risk might be enough to snap you out of your funk.
The common view of people who continuously make dangerous choices is that they are reckless idiots. If that’s true, nothing can be done to fix the situation. But suppose the problem is that risk-takers are simply less happy than people who are cautious. Does that give you a tool to work with?
My hypothesis is that you can reduce risky behavior by increasing a person’s happiness. The basic tools of happiness are diet, exercise, social support, and optimism about the future. Interestingly, none of those things need to be expensive.
Here’s a simple test to see the link between happiness and risky behavior. When you’re in a bad mood, do you drive faster or slower?