Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Degree Program

Applied Developmental Psychology

Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Robert D. Laird, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study tested dual-process decision-making models as predictors of between-person and within-person variation in risk-taking behavior. Additionally, the study integrated trait perspectives on self-control and impulsivity with decision-making processes to explain risk-taking. Participants were 580 college students ages 18 and older (M age = 20.45, range = 18 to 52 years). This study involved three parts. First, participants completed a survey assessing decision-making processes, self-control, impulsivity and risk-taking behavior. Second, a sub-set of participants completed laboratory-based measures of self-control and impulsivity. Third, participants completed a longitudinal online assessment of their risk-taking behavior. Dual-process models explained concurrent risk-taking, but only the reasoned decision-making process explained longitudinal risk-taking. The dual decision-making processes appear to operate through similar pathways, with components from each pathway exhibiting indirect effects through the other pathway. Impulsivity was linked to higher levels of risk-taking because of higher levels of behavioral intentions and willingness, whereas self-control was linked to lower levels of risk-taking because of lower levels of behavioral intentions. Between-person effects were as common as within-person effects, so future researchers are urged to consider decision-making processes averaged across forms of risk-taking and within each form of risk-taking. Altering decision-making pathways may be an effective way to intervene with individuals at high risk for engaging in risk-taking behavior.

Rights

The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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