We often see risk-taking actions as functions of self-motivation, purpose, and passion. That’s true. But those aren’t just intrinsic personality traits — they’re learned.
A study from the London School of Economics says that affluent white men are more willing to partake in “aggressive, risk-taking activities” than any other racial or gender demographic. It attributes that gap to “mindset inequality”: the idea that risk-takers grew up thinking like risk-takers.
In low-income and/or minority households, structural inequality has dramatically shifted mindsets to the point where people don’t really believe that those risky spaces are for them.
That concept of "mindset inequality" is key. Risk-taking behavior is learned, often across generations. Ricky Yean said it best:
Tangible inequalities —such as lack of money or lack of access to high-quality education– get the majority of our attention, and deservedly so. But the inequalities that live in your mind can keep the deck stacked against you even if you manage to make it out of the one-room apartment you shared with your dad. This is an insidious problem. It’s difficult to discuss, and takes a long essay to explain.
I'm often reminded of this fact when considering my own plans for the future. You have to learn to think bigger. You have to learn to believe that you're capable of dreams off the beaten path.
I'm definitely still learning.