Joshua A Weller, Andrea Ceschi, Caleb Randolph
Decision-making competence (DMC) reflects individual differences in rational responding across several classic behavioral decision-making tasks. Although it has been associated with real-world risk behavior, less is known about the degree to which DMC contributes to specific components of risk attitudes. Utilizing a psychological risk-return framework, we examined the associations between risk attitudes and DMC. Italian community residents (n = 804) completed an online DMC measure, using a subset of the original Adult-DMC battery. Participants also completed a self-reported risk attitude measure for three components of risk attitudes (risk-taking, risk perceptions, and expected benefits) across six risk domains. Overall, greater performance on the DMC component scales were inversely, albeit modestly, associated with risk-taking tendencies. Structural equation modeling results revealed that DMC was associated with lower perceived expected benefits for all domains. In contrast, its association with perceived risks was more domain-specific. These analyses also revealed stronger indirect effects for the DMC → expected benefits → risk-taking path than the DMC → perceived risk → risk-taking path, especially for behaviors that may be considered more maladaptive in nature. These results suggest that DMC performance differentially impacts specific components of risk attitudes, and may be more strongly related to the evaluation of expected value of a specific behavior.