Youngadults are faced with a myriad of challenges, which are manifested in the formof family problems, occupational problems, as well as personal problems. However,certain risk behaviours may be a part of healthy growth, while others are moreproblematic and pathological. Individual differences in personality traitsunderlie a great deal of risk-taking. Therefore, as a result, risk-takingbehaviours emerge and develop due to negative coping strategies. Severalfactors could be predictors of risk-taking behaviour, and personality is onesuch factor. In this present study, the influence of the dimensions ofpersonality, according to the Five Factor Model, on risk-taking behaviours, hasbeen studied. Personality refers to individual differences in characteristicpatterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. In other words, personality is theunique combination of patterns that influence behaviour, thought, motivation,and emotion in an individual.
Personality traits can be defined as “dimensionsof individual differences in tendencies to show consistent patterns of thought,feeling, and actions” (McCrae & Costa, 1990). It has been suggested byresearchers that personality traits have a genetic influence and reach completedevelopment in early adulthood. Personality essentially refers to the enduringpatterns of behaviour, which are thought to be relatively stable andpredictable. Personalityplays a major role in an individual’s propensity for risk-taking behaviour. In other words, it determines who is likely to engagein risk-taking behaviours. Individual differences and personality patternsinfluence how a risk situation is perceived (Trimpop, 1994) and whether therisk is appraised as a type of benefit, harm or threat (Lazarus, 1991).
Furthermore, personality may determine whether or not a person enjoys ordislikes the risk experience (Trimpop, 1994). Personality also plays a part inhow a person reacts, selects and shapes their environment to suit theirparticular disposition (Deckers, 2005).Risk-TakingBehaviour (RTB) has been conceptualized as a period of growing autonomy andemerging individualization from the family (Igra & Irwin, 1996). Thedefinition of risk- taking is best conceptualized relative to a person’sdevelopmental context (Lerner & Tubman, 1991). Essentially, RTB is thevoluntary participation in behaviour that contains a significant degree ofrisk. According to Jessor & Jessor (1997), individuals purposely seek outrisk, as such behaviours permit them to; 1) take control over their lives; 2)express opposition to authority and conventional society; 3) deal with anxiety,frustration, inadequacy, and failure; 4) gain admission in peer group anddemonstrate identification with sub-culture; 5) confirm personal identity; 6)affirm maturity and mark a developmental transition into adulthood. Risky behaviours among young people arerelatively frequent, and has been consequently portrayed as a precursor ofproblematic behaviour (Jessor & Jessor, 1977), leading to self-destruction,psychological, social, and health compromising situations (Ingersoll & Orr,1989). However, risk taking has also been shownto be an important part of development into adulthood, particularly if it isgoal directed (Jessor, 1991); risk taking is not merely for sensation seeking,but it sometimes has aims on a personal level (Shapiro, Siegel, Scovill, &Hays,1998) or relational level (Engels & ter Bogt, 2001).
A modestdegree of risk-taking in adolescence seems to be normative and associated withsome positive psychological characteristics (Shedler & Block, 1990).Thestudy of adolescent risk-taking behaviour gained prominence in the 1980s, as itbecame increasingly evident that the majority of the morbidity and mortalitythat developed during adolescence and young adulthood was behavioural inorigin. The term Risk-Taking Behaviour (RTB) has been used to link,conceptually, a number of potentially health-damaging behaviours includingsubstance use (alcohol and drug use and abuse), risky sexual behaviour,reckless vehicle use, suicidal behaviour, extreme dieting or eating disorders,and delinquency. Engaging in risk-taking behaviour throughout life can berelated to a variety of negative short- and long-term physical andpsychological consequences. Thus, risky behaviours have been characterized asthose behaviours that entail the possibility of subjective loss (Furby &Beyth-Maron, 1990).
Irwin (1990) is of the opinion that risk-taking behavioursare those behaviours undertaken volitionally, whose outcomes or consequences remainuncertain with the possibility of an identifiable negative health outcome.Riskyand self-destructive behaviours involve the implementation of behaviouraloptions that place individuals at substantial risk of harm (Steinberg, 2008)and reflect the tendency to execute harmful behaviours without considering thenegative consequences that may occur (Horvath & Zuckerman, 1993). Whenpeople take risks, they engage in behaviours that could lead to negativeconsequences such as physical injury, social rejection, legal troubles, orfinancial losses.