Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Decision-Making Competence, Life Regrets, and Subjective Well-Being in Mature Adults

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Yiwei Chen, PhD

Second Advisor

Scott Highhouse, PhD (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Sherri Horner, PhD (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman, PhD (Committee Member)


Mature adults must be competent in making decisions every day and live with the consequences of those decisions. The present study examined the external validity of a measure of adult decision-making competence (Finucane and Gullion, 2010) with measures of real-life decision outcomes. In addition, the present study developed a measure of real-life decision outcomes as reflected by life regrets. The present study also examined how decision-making competence, dispositional factors, and life regrets differentially predicted life satisfaction and how decision-making competence and dispositional factors predicted life regrets. The external validity of the DMC measure was not supported by the results. Increasing age was related to lower DMC, but higher real life decision-making outcomes. The life regrets measure showed adequate internal consistency and convergent validity. Life regrets uniquely explained variance in life satisfaction on top of decision-making competence and dispositional factors. The results suggest that the DMC measure may only reflect the cognitive component of decision-making, but other factors are likely to be involved in real-life decision outcomes. Results also suggest that affective aspects of decision-making, as reflected by life regrets, are more predictive of actual decision outcomes and well-being than cognitive aspects, as measured by decision-making competence.