Risk Aversion

Lesson Summary

This guide has students consider what sort of behaviors might indicate that an individual is risk-loving or risk-averse.

Clip Summary

This game begins with players standing at the opposite spectrum of a massive room hundreds of feet above the ground. The players face a 2x18 grid of glass panels. In each pair of panels, one panel of glass is tempered and capable of holding up to 2 people. The other panel is normal glass that will break with any one person’s weight – sending them to instant death. The players must jump from one glass panel to the next to traverse the bridge, in a predetermined order: vest #1 goes first; vest #16 goes last. They have only 16 minutes to cross the bridge. If the players don’t make it across the bridge before the deadline, all of the remaining glass panels will shatter and everyone on the bridge will die.

Assessment Questions

  1. Why is the first player (vest #1) so hesitant to step on the bridge?

  2. What special information or advantage does the final player (vest #16) have when crossing the bridge?

  3. What factors do you think are related to risk aversion?

Hover over box to see suggested answers

  1. Players make decisions with uncertainty since the distribution of the glass tiles is 50/50 for each pair of tiles. The players are essentially making decisions based on a random draw. For the first player, the game is almost certainly a death sentence. He is risk-averse because he knows the odds of survival are close to zero.

  2. The last player, Gi-Hun (Player #456), can see which glass panels survive the 15 players that went before him, but he also has the least uncertainty involved with his decision. 

  3. Some popular answers include:
    Player gender: At the end of the game there were two males. At the beginning of the scene, the more risk averse females took numbers closer to the middle before others took them and left the numbers at either extreme to the males. In the beginning, without knowing what the numbers represent, men picked their numbers more confidently, whereas the women were hesitant. Women started to pick numbers after they heard that the numbers represent the order. 
    Size of the prize: If the prize were only $10, players would not have had such a hard time deciding which number to pick. Larger prizes tend to make people more risk averse.