How do people make decisions when they have to choose between unknown futures? Do they simply rely on anticipated costs and benefits or do they use some other criteria to assess their options? And what determines the criteria they use to make such decisions? This article explores the way voters take sides when they are faced with a fundamental political choice. Using data from a survey of voting intentions conducted prior to the 1995 referendum on sovereignty in Quebec, we find that attitude towards risk-taking influences political choice indirectly, as it affects the relative weights given to different decision criteria. Individuals who usually accept risk more readily tend to choose entirely on the basis of anticipated costs and benefits, but individuals who are more reluctant to take risks give almost as much weight to the perceived possibility of a ‘worst outcome’. Our analysis suggests that attitude towards risk-taking had a modest but significant impact on individual choice, and thus was a contributing factor in the outcome of the Quebec referendum.