Metacognition and Cognitive
Variability: A Dual-Process
Model of Decision Making
and Its Development
Paul A. Klaczynski
The Pennsylvania State University
Jim, Dave, and Keith are brothers, ages 9, 11, and 14, respectively. On their father's advice, they decided to spend the day playing golf at a small par-3 course. The daily special, "$10 for all the golf you can handle," thrilled them. Although none had played the game previously, the mere idea of smacking a 1.68" diameter ball around, trying to sink it into each of the course's nine 4.24" diameter cups, seemed like a great way to spend an otherwise slow summer day. After all, they had worked hard completing their chores and had earned the $15 their father had given each of them.
But what seemed like a good idea at the time took a few bad turns. The day, which began pleasantly enough, was hot and humid by the time the boys reached the fourth hole. Worse, the difficulties—and the concomitant frustrations—of the game were dawning on them. Shot after shot was sliced, hooked, duffed, or otherwise misplayed. No evidence suggested that their games were improving. And so, the initial fire for the game that had burned in the boys' hearts dimmed to a small, barely glowing ember.
It may seem obvious that the boys should quit, end the humiliation, and move on to an activity from which they could derive at least a modicum of enjoyment. The question must nonetheless be asked: How likely is it that any of the boys will actually quit? Given their different ages, is one of the boys more likely than the others to opt out of the game?
The dilemma would be less apparent, and the decision to quit much easier, if not for the $10 investment the boys made to play "all the golf they could handle." Indeed, had they played for free, had they not "sunk" well