Greater Decision-Making Competence Is Associated with Greater Expected-Value Sensitivity, but Not Overall Risk Taking

An Examination of Concurrent Validity

Published in: Frontiers in Psychology, v. 6, article 717, May 2015, p. 1-6

Posted on RAND.org on June 04, 2015

by Andrew M. Parker, Joshua A. Weller

Read More

Access further information on this document at Frontiers in Psychology

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Decision-making competence reflects individual differences in the susceptibility to decision-making errors, measured using tasks common from behavioral decision research (e.g., framing effects, under/overconfidence, following decision rules). Prior research demonstrates that those with higher decision-making competence report lower incidence of health-risking and antisocial behaviors, but there has been less focus on intermediate mechanisms that may impact real-world decisions, and, in particular, those implicated by normative models. Here we test the associations between measures of youth decision-making competence (Y-DMC) and one such mechanism, the degree to which individuals make choices consistent with maximizing expected value (EV). Using a task involving hypothetical gambles, we find that greater EV sensitivity is associated with greater Y-DMC. Higher Y-DMC scores are associated with (a) choosing risky options when expected value favors those options and (b) avoiding risky options when expected value favors a certain option. This relationship is stronger for gambles that involved potential losses. The results suggest that Y-DMC captures decision processes consistent with standard normative evaluations of risky decisions.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.