Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Mark H. Ashcraft

Second Committee Member

Colleen Parks

Third Committee Member

David Copeland

Fourth Committee Member

Pierre Liénard

Number of Pages



The finding that the presentation of a choice (i.e., either as a loss or a gain) can affect and bias our willingness to engage in risk is one of the paramount findings of behavioral economics. First discussed by Tversky and Kahneman (1981), the framing effect demonstrates that when given two choices framed as a loss, we tend to become risk seeking. However, when the exact same outcome is presented as a gain, we become risk averse, choosing the more conservative option, regardless of the actual expected value. The effect is not limited to general research samples but has been demonstrated using domain specific frames in samples of educators (Fagley, Miller, & Jones, 1999), financial professionals (Roszkowski & Snelbecker, 1990), and physicians (Christensen, Heckerung, Mackesy-Amiti, Bernstein, & Elstein, 1995). Despite extensive research on framing biases, the exact underlying mechanisms accounting for the effect have not yet fully been explained. Extant studies have found relationships between various aspects of executive function (e.g., working memory and attention) and risky decision making, as well as links between mathematical ability and decision-making strategies, yet no work to date has fully explored the joint contribution of these factors, nor how they may contribute to or shield us from potential framing biases. The present study utilized a battery of nine tasks measuring the constructs working memory, selective attention, inhibitory control, cognitive impulsivity, math achievement, general numeracy, math anxiety, and framing resistance to explore the joint contribution of executive ability and mathematical traits upon framing resistance. While small correlations were found between the predictive measures and framing resistance, structural equation modelling explained little more than the Pearson coefficients. The current data raises questions about the influence of age and life experience on framing bias within conventional methods of decision-making research.


attention; behavioral economics; cognition; executive function; framing bias; working memory


Cognitive Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




IN COPYRIGHT. For more information about this rights statement, please visit