Decision making strategies: the influence of task complexity, decision importance, decision maker impulsivity, and decision maker gender

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Virginia Tech

The effects of decision task complexity, decision importance, and decision maker impulsivity on decision making behavior were studied in this thesis. Measures involving time and acquisition of information were devised as well as specialized measures of decision strategy complexity. Thirty-six subjects classified as either high- or low-impulsives (eighteen male, eighteen female) performed decision tasks involving the selection of the “best” apartment from a group of apartments that were homogeneous with respect to desirability. Decision task complexity was manipulated by increasing the number of apartments from which the subject had to choose. Decision importance was manipulated by changing the reward associated for selecting the best apartment. A theoretical decision strategy selection mechanism, based on a similar mechanism proposed by Christensen-Szalanski (1978), was developed to explain the relationship between the independent variables in this study and decision strategy selection. Results indicated partial support for the theoretical mechanism and highlighted areas for future research.