Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Larson, Julie A. Hakim


Psychology, Decision-making, Emerging adults, Psychosocial protective factors, Psychosocial risk factors




The study examined whether the pattern of relations between rational and intuition-based decisionmaking processes, psychosocial background variables, and risky behaviours in emerging adults supports the analytical-experiential theory (Klaczynski, 2001a, 2001b), which highlights the role of the rational process, or the fuzzy-trace theory (Reyna &Brainerd, 1992), which highlights the role of the intuition-based process in optimal decision-making. Additionally, the study compared the think-aloud and self-report methods of measuring decision-making processes. One-hundred and twenty five undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 21 years completed online questionnaires reporting on their demographic characteristics, communication with their parents, risk and protective factors, risky behaviours, and self-reported use of rational and intuition-based decision-making. Using a think-aloud protocol, participants also listened to three vignettes and audio-recorded themselves giving advice to the person in the vignette. Their responses were coded by different combinations of two independent coders along categories of intuition-based and rational decision-making processing. The rational and intuition-based decision-making as measured through self-report and think aloud were predicted from risk and protective factors, communication with parents, and gender. In addition, recent and lifetime risky behaviours were predicted from rational and intuition-based decision-making processes as measured through self-report and the think-aloud protocol. The results within this sample provided support for the analyticalexperiential theory, with rational decision-making processing being associated with higher protective factor scores and intuition-based processing being associated with lower protective factor scores and higher recent and lifetime risky behaviours. Women scored higher on intuition-based processing as measured through thinkaloud, and men scored higher on the self-report of rationality. The think-aloud and self-report measures did not show consistent associations. The results are interpreted in the context of the low psychosocial risk of the sample, restricted age range, and contextual characteristics of the measurement methods. Future studies should examine decision-making processes in more diverse samples and in a variety of situations.