Although previous studies investigated the relationship between general cognitive abilities and decision making, few have characterized specific cognitive abilities underlying decision-making competence. In this paper, we focus on executive functions, control processes involved in the regulation of cognition. Specifically, we report on an individual-differences study that investigated the relationship of executive functioning (EF) and general cognitive abilities (fluid intelligence and numeracy) with different aspects of decision-making competence. Individual differences in EF components explained aspects of decision-making competence even after controlling for fluid intelligence and numeracy. However, different aspects of decision-making competence varied in the extent to which they relied on different executive functions. In particular, resistance to framing effects, the ability to apply decision rules, and successful engagement in cognitive reflection partially depend on individual differences on the monitoring/inhibition dimension of EF. The ability to provide consistent judgments in risk perception is related to the shifting aspect of EF. The ability to recognize social norms and resistance to sunk costs were not significantly related to EF, thus supporting the idea that executive control is not a major determinant of these aspects of decision-making competence. Finally, substantial variance in some of the decision-making tasks remained unexplained, suggesting that other cognitive or non-cognitive abilities need to be considered in future studies.
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