Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Michael Bixter

Committee Member

Jennifer Pardo

Committee Member

Laura Lakusta


People often are required to make decisions in a collaborative environment, including decisions that deal with risky or uncertain outcomes. The present thesis investigated the role of both social influence and individual cognitive factors (attentional control) in risky decision making. Two measures of attentional control (a Stroop task and a Go/No-go task) were completed by participants. Risky choice was then measured through a hypothetical monetary gambling task where participants made choices between a smaller-guaranteed reward or a larger-risky reward. Three blocks of the risky-choice task were completed. Participants in the individual condition completed all three blocks of trials individually. For participants in the dyad condition, two participants would collaborate together during the second block and make all choices as a pair. This study design afforded the ability to measure changes in risky choice preferences from pre- collaboration (block 1) to post-collaboration (block 3). Data collection for the present study is currently ongoing with a target sample size of 200 participants. As a result, all findings are reported as tentative until the full sample size is achieved. The current thesis sample size includes 65 participants. The preliminary results suggest a social influence effect on risky choice preferences for participants in the dyad condition, with participants’ risk preferences significantly more similar post-collaboratively compared to pre-collaboratively. Attention did not significantly correlate with risky choice, but the preliminary results suggest a possible trend such that members in a dyad with higher attentional control may have had more of an impact on decisions made by the dyad during collaboration. The overall findings serve to suggest the possibility of a complex interaction between cognitive mechanisms and risk preferences in a collaborative environment.

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