Enhancing the Decision-Making of Extraverted College Students

By Kreitler, Crystal M.; Dansereau, Donald F. et al. | College Student Journal, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Enhancing the Decision-Making of Extraverted College Students


Kreitler, Crystal M., Dansereau, Donald F., Barth, Timothy M., Ito, Sachiyo, College Student Journal


Previous studies have demonstrated that many college students, specifically those high on extraversion are prone to risky and sometimes unethical decision-making. The present study examined the impact of a decision-making "tool" that incorporated the use of standard ethical perspectives on students' attitudes and intentions. This "fill in the node" spatial display guides extraverts through a systematic decision process. Results revealed that extraverts reported positive outcomes with regard to the decision tool. The results also suggest that extraverts prefer the virtue and justice/fairness ethical perspectives more than introverts. Introverts, on the other hand, seemed to reduce their reliance on the utilitarian perspective when utilizing a decision guide map.

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College students are one of the groups at greatest risk for impulsive and unethical decision-making. Reckless driving (National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 2005), illegal drug use (Clayton, 1992) and cheating (McCabe, 1999) occur with alarming frequency among college students. Decisions leading to such imprudent behavioral responses may impact the life course trajectory of these vulnerable young adults.

Researchers have compared the ethical perceptions of college students and older adults, finding that college students are much more accepting of questionable ethical practices than adults (Cole & Smith, 1996). There is mounting evidence that many college students are prepared to engage in unethical behaviors such as cheating (Anderman, Griesinger, & Westerfield, 1998; McCabe, 1999). Haines, Diekhoff, LaBeff, and Clark (1986) found that slightly more than half of the college students surveyed reported having cheated. It has also been reported that only 1% of students who observed such academic infractions reported the cheating to their professors (Jendrek, 1992). Unethical decisions such as cheating, dangerous drinking, or illegal drug use made by college students can have lasting repercussions, resulting in dismissal from school, jail time, bodily injury or death.

The present paper focuses on the evaluation of a tool developed to aid college students with ethical and practical decisions. This tool is an extension of pre-structured guide maps explored in teaching and learning (Dansereau & Simpson, 2009). Node (Box)-Link (Line) tools for visualizing and organizing information have been shown to be effective in improving communication and problem-solving (see Dansereau, 2005 for review). A decision tool based on this format will be compared to typical decision-making by extraverted and introverted college students.

Introversion/Extraversion

Which college students are most likely to engage in poor decision-making? Research reveals that college students high on extraversion are most likely to exhibit indecisiveness in their decision-making (Kelly & Lee, 2005) and engage in riskier decisions (Rim, 1982). Introversion/extraversion, which is typically measured by self-report (e.g., Big Five Factor Inventory, Benet-Matinez & John, 1998), is considered to be a personality trait that reflects sociability. This construct, however, appears to be related to numerous other personality characteristics (see Duijsens & Diekstra for review, 1996). In addition to sociability, extraverts typically exhibit liveliness, assertiveness and have the need for activity, adventure, excitement, and stimulation (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Eysenck and Eysenck (1985) found that elevated extraversion is associated with more impulsivity and lower self-control. Introverts tend to prefer spending time alone, while extraverts prefer the company of others (John & Srivastava, 1999). College students who are high on extraversion appear to be at an even greater risk for problematic and potentially unethical decision-making. College students high on extraversion, for instance, are more likely to engage in excessive drinking and drunk driving (Cook, Young, Taylor, & Bedford, 1998; Kjaerheim, Mykletun, & Halvorsen 1996; Martsh & Miller, 1997), smoking (Arai, Hosokawa, Fukao, Izumi, & Hisamichi, 1997; Pritchard & Kay, 1993), cheating on exams (Singh, & Akhtar, 1972) and risky sexual practices (Cooper, Agocha, & Sheldon, 2000). …

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