Term of Award

Summer 2002

Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

John D. Murray

Committee Member 1

Janice N. Steirn

Committee Member 2

Richard Rogers


This experiment assessed the extent to which the presence of an opponent and time pressure affected risk-taking behavior in a modified blackjack game developed by Dror et al. (1999). Eighty-two college students executed a series of blackjack hands that varied with respect to risk level (none, low, medium, high, very high, infinite), time pressure (yes/no), and presence of an opponent (no opponent, human opponent, computer opponent). Choice probability (participants' willingness to take an additional card) and choice response time were the dependent variables of interest. Consistent with previous research (Burke & Murray, 2001; Dror et al., 1999), participants were less likely to take an additional card as risk level increased. As predicted, response time data showed that participants took more time to make decisions at the low. medium, and high risk levels and that time pressure reduced response time across all risk levels. In general, the presence of an opponent led to an increase in the frequency of choosing to take an additional card across all risk levels, especially at the risk levels requiring more difficult decisions. Consistent with predictions, the findings suggest that the presence of an opponent, especially a human opponent, has an important role in the way that people make risky decisions.

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