Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Julie Patrick

Committee Co-Chair

Constance Toffle

Committee Member

Constance Toffle

Committee Member

Elisa Krackow


This study examines how factors such as emotion and planning abilities, determine decision-making strategies and outcomes. Consumer-based decision tasks are one way for researchers to measure the decision-making process and outcomes of individuals, while bringing an element of reality to the task through the utilization of decisions about everyday items that someone might purchase (e.g., a car, apartment, etc.). Using these types of tasks, researchers can measure the quality of a decision (e.g., did the participant come up with the best solution?), as well as the decision or search strategy. Previous research shows that cognitive factors are important when individuals make decisions (Engle, 2018). Emotional components are also important to consider when addressing decision making in adulthood. Older adults have a better memory for emotion-laden content compared to younger adults (Yoon et al., 2009). Older adults also tend to display a bias toward positive information when making decisions (Carstensen et al., 1999). The current study uses emotional variables such as decision importance and task difficulty, as well as measures of cognitive functioning, such as the digit symbol substitution task, to predict decision making quality and strategies in a consumer-based task. While previous research shows that cognitive abilities (Engle, 2018; Patrick et al., 2013) and affective components (Carstensen et al., 1999) are both important for predicting decision-making outcomes, the research regarding affective components is less well established. Results found that those who relied on a particular search strategy were more than twice as likely (OR = 2.34) to be classified as making a good decision in choosing a home. Results from this study have implications for alternate routes of intervention in the decision-making process.

Included in

Psychology Commons