Decision Making Styles and Attitudes Towards Self in Young Adults: Essence of Birth Order Psychology

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Many important factors are taken into consideration while trying to understand an individual’s choices and attitudes. This is a study conducted to understand how attitude affects the decision-making styles of an individual and if there are any differences among first born and middle born students. The study has 2 main objectives: 1) to understand the role played by the attitudes one has towards himself in his decision-making process 2) to analyse if being a first born or middle born impacts the attitudes or decision-making style of an individual. The results of the paper showed that there is a correlation between Decision-Making Styles and Attitude Towards Self (.186) and Age and Decision-Making Styles (.208)

Keywords: Attitude Towards Self, Decision Making Styles, Birth Order, First Born, Middle Born

Decision Making Styles and Attitude towards Self in First and Middle Born

Decision Making

Decision making is the process of analysing two or more given options and choosing the one best suited for one. Decision-making is defined as determining one or more options among the possible options in accordance with the target and objectives. Making correct and timely decisions brings about many advantages for people (Eroglu and Lorcu 2007). This process requires critical thinking, reasoning, abstract thinking and rational thought. An individual’s decisions are influenced by his values, beliefs, experiences, biases and culture. Values and beliefs shape an individual’s thinking and negative or positive outcomes in the past shape his future decision making. If a previous decision has led to a very unfavourable outcome, the individual avoids taking that course of action again. Seeking counsel is also a very important part of decision making. Many times, high school students go for career counselling and undertake many aptitude tests to help them determine the best career options. Another important factor that influences decisions is biases or personal preferences.

Throughout their life, people come across many instances where they need to choose between two or more alternatives. Uncertainty of outcome is an unavoidable part of most decisions because of decision making can be frightening. Some people tend to gather information and seek advice from professionals to make well informed decisions. Another logical step is weighing down the good and the bad and selecting the best alternative. It is a very lengthy process and each person adopts different patterns of thinking while evaluating their options.

All in all, decision making is a very integral and unavoidable part of life. From the time we’re old enough to think to the time we die, we are bound to make decisions which vary in importance. Children are faced with the challenge of selecting a toy, whereas adults need to make major decisions regarding their career, family and various other things.

Decision making styles are strategies adopted for reaching the right decision. According to Scott and Bruce (1995) there are five primary decision-making styles which dictate how an individual chooses between different alternatives when the need calls for it. Rational style is governed by a thorough search and logical evaluations. Some people tend to avoid and postponing taking decisions to the eleventh hour. This style is termed as the avoidant style. Thirdly, people may take quick decisions as they want to finish their decision making as fast as possible. These people adopt a spontaneous style. People adopting a dependent style may seek counsel from others instead of acting on their own. The intuitive style is characterized by attention to detail and a tendency to rely on feeling. (Bavolar & Orosova, 2015)

Commonly, people adopt the style best suited to their personality rather than the situation. Sometimes people don’t stick to one single strategy and adopt different ones based on various factors. Whether it’s a minor decision or a complex one, decision making can be a stressful process and each person’s approach is different. Decision-making is a complex process which is also determined by one’s attitude towards the situation and himself.


Attitude refers to an evaluation of any event, object, person or place which can either be negative or positive in nature. Human beings have the tendency to form opinions about everything around them which may be favourable or unfavourable. (Baron and Branscombe, 2016)

Gordon Allport (1928) defined attitude as a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related.

Multiple factors contribute to the formation of attitudes. People may draw conclusions about an event, or a person based on previous exposure and past experiences. If they had a good experience, then they are more likely to develop a positive attitude towards the thing in question. On the other hand, negative attitudes are a result of bad experiences, unpleasant events and unfavourable outcomes (Baron and Branscombe, 2016). For example, if a person visits a restaurant and the waiters are receptive, serve food on time, cater to their needs and have a hygienic and pleasant environment then they will form a positive attitude towards the restaurant. However, if they go to a new restaurant which is disorganized, the waiters are rude and unhelpful, take lots of time to deliver food, has poor hygiene and serve bland food then they’re going to develop a negative attitude towards them. They are more likely to go to the first restaurant again than the second one. A person is also more likely to advice others against the second restaurant, henceforth influencing their attitude towards it without having experienced it first-hand.

In the teenage years, peers exercise considerable influence on the formation of attitudes. In this stage of life, children are struggling to identify with themselves and have a want to fit in their respective peer groups. Hence, they are more likely to think like their peers who serve as their reference groups than their family members. (Baron and Branscombe, 2016)

Media also has a considerable impact on attitudes. Various forms of media, especially television, can sway people’s minds in the desirable direction. They may paint positive or negative images of various objects, events and people which influence the masses. Sometimes, the media is the only source of some information people need so they tend to believe it and form attitudes based on what they hear. (Baron and Branscombe, 2016)

Culture also affects attitudes as different cultures value different things. In western culture there’s a more positive attitude towards individuality, diversity and freedom than in other cultures which value traditions and sameness over the former. Many studies say that many factors influence attitude and one such factor is birth order.

Birth Order

Birth Order psychology finds its roots in Alfred Adler’s theory of personality. Birth order refers to the chronological position of a sibling’s birth in their family. According to many studies, birth order influences the behaviour and nature of a person. Family dynamics shape the personality of children. The first-born child is typically considered to be more responsible and independent whereas the youngest to be more social and outgoing. Not much research has been done on middle-born young adults who are neither at the beginning or the end of the spectrum, but rather fall in the middle. (Adler, 1928)

Birth order psychology has recently gained popularity again, although some people think the role of this factor is being overestimated. However, several research studies have validated the role of birth order in personality. First-borns tend to be responsible, competitive and conventional, whereas later born children have to 'distinguish' themselves and create a specific niche by being playful, cooperative, and especially, rebellious,' (Saroglou and Fiasse, 2003).

There has been extensive research into birth-order theory. Many studies look at how specific traits, such as intelligence or creativity, relate to birth order. Many of these studies have confirmed Adler’s theory regarding specific traits. When it comes to gender differences, birth order and number of siblings are found to matter more often among females than among males with respect to real-life decisions. (Lampi and Nordblom, 2011). Firstborns and last-born experience a higher degree of parental preference while middle born children are significantly less likely to be chosen as a parental favourite and also receive less parental investment (Salmon, 2003).

Parents play a huge role in how children see themselves and this could lead to a difference in high standards, self-criticism and generalization from a single failure in children. Little research has been done on attitude towards self and decision-making styles, however it’s possible that the attitude towards self as affected by birth order will lead to a relationship between birth order and decision-making styles (Shah, 2015)

There are numerous studies to understand decision making styles and attitudes among young adults. Some of them are discussed below:

A study was conducted by Bayram and Aydemir (2017) to examine the relationship between decision-making styles and personality traits among a group of Turkish university students. They used the Decision-Making Style Scale (DMS) developed by Scott and Bruce and The Big Five Inventory (BIF) developed by John, Donahue, and Kentle. Their main aims were to identify the relationship between decision making styles and personality traits taking gender into consideration. The findings indicated that females showed more intuitive decision-making capability than males and extraversion personality had a positive relation with rational and intuitive decision-making style. Men had significantly lower scores on agreeableness and neuroticism personality traits as compared to women. Neurotic personality had a positive effect on intuitive, dependent and spontaneous decision-making style. The relationship between extraversion and spontaneous decision-making style was positive. Openness to experience had a positive effect on rational decision-making style. Hence, personality played an important role in decision-making style.

Another study conducted in University of Arizona aimed to find out if there was any relationship between confidence in judgments/decisions made and birth order. Shah & Shruti Mukesh (2015) believed that being reminded of their birth position would affect the later born child’s judgement in a negative way and the first born in a positive way. However, the findings suggested no such relationship between the two. A significant relationship was observed between intuitive decision-making style and birth order; however, it was regardless of assigned condition. Another interesting thing to note was that the lastborn females had the lowest expressed confidence in their answers. Firstborn females on the other hand had the highest expressed confidence in their answers, but also exhibited heavy variability.

A study investigated the effects birth order has on personality, self-esteem, satisfaction with life and age. According to Sharon Johnson (2014), there would be significant differences between birth order categories and personality & self-esteem. She also wanted to study satisfaction in life in terms of self-esteem and personality. The results showed no statistically significant differences between birth order categories and extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. There was however a statistically significant difference between birth order categories and openness to experience. Another thing to note was that last-born children were found to have higher levels of openness to experiences than middle born children.

A study was done by Nicole L Wood (2012) on Individual differences in decision making as predictors of good decision making& examined the relations between decision-making styles. It also evaluated the usefulness of decision-making styles for predicting decision-making quality over and above the Big Five traits. The results suggest that decision-making styles explain decision-making quality, even when the Big Five traits have already been considered. Self-reported rational decision-making style predicted peer rated reason-based, values-based, and general decision making. The Spontaneous style was negatively related to peer-rated reason-based and general decision making and self-reported avoidant style was negatively related to the former only. Because relations between dependent and intuitive decision-making styles, and values based and creative decision-making, failed to be significant, the findings suggested mixed results. However, overall habitual patterns and tendencies in the way a person approaches decisions and problems can impact decision outcomes.

Another study was done to verify the psychometric characteristics of the General Decision-Making on a sample of Slovak high-school and university students. The study was conducted by Bavol’ár & Orosová (2015) on 427 university and school students. It examined the relationship between decision making styles and competencies and its connection to mental health. The findings suggested that two decision-making styles served as significant predictors of the general decision-making competency (avoidant and spontaneous) and the other two helped in determining mental health. The intuitive decision-making style was a protective factor and the avoidant style was a risk factor. The GDMS internal consistency was verified and its original factor structure was confirmed.

In a study by Vaneaa& Ghizdareanu(2012), they sought to identify the differences between university student’s tendencies to adopt high standards and self-criticism taking gender, age and learning context into consideration. The sample size was 250 students. The findings suggested that the interaction between students’ gender and type of faculty they attend and age, year of study and study domain had an impact on both students’ tendencies to set high standards and to respond self-critically to the deviations from such standards. It was also noted that Psychology students set higher standards than people from technical faculties. The higher the standards were, the greater was self-criticism. Females also displayed lower tendency to meet high standards but higher scores in the self-criticism area.

A study done by Arslan and Yilmaz (2015) examined decision making styles and self-esteem at decision making of university students regarding shyness, self-esteem. The total sample size was 636 students. There was significant positive relationship between self-esteem and self-esteem in decision making. It was concluded that there is negative relation between shyness and self-esteem in decision-making and vigilance decision making. According to the findings, self-esteem at decision making and hyper vigilance decision-making were directly related. To conclude, self-esteem and shyness are effective in self-esteem in decision making and decision-making styles, whereas overlap with the theoretical information and findings of the previous research.

A study was done by Baganab& Negovana (2011) to examine the relationship between self-esteem and vulnerability to depression among high school and freshmen university. Data was collected from 200 students ranging from 17-21 years. High school students were reported to have higher standards as compared to university students. Among them, high school female students reported a higher level of self-criticism, overgeneralization of failure and of vulnerability to depression than the male, whereas the female university students reported a higher level of overgeneralization compared to their male peers. Significant differences were found between students’ self-esteem as a function of personal factors and as a function of contextual and situational factors.

Baganaa et al (2010) examined the gender, age and learning context differences on proactive coping and vulnerabilities to depression such as high standards, generalization from a single failure and self-criticism in a university environment. The findings proved that females are more able to proactively cope with the environmental demands than males. However, they showed higher scores for the three vulnerabilities than their male counterparts who scored low in that area.

The present study focuses on the relationship between Decision-Making and Attitudes Towards Self with respect to Gender, Age, Parent Support, Birth Order and other such independent variables. This study focuses on the need to analyse the correlation between Decision Making Styles and Attitudes Towards Self. The researcher has decided to focus on this topic due to lack of information regarding this topic online. There is also an extensive need to focus on variables such as Decision Making and Attitudes that may affect the self-image as well as the future of a young adult. The researcher also wanted to focus on family dynamics and their role in any individual’s decision-making process and attitudes. Another important reason for choosing this topic was to understand various aspects such as Age and Gender and the influence they have on an individual.

Research Questions

  • Is there a relationship between decision making styles and attitude towards self?
  • Do factors like age, gender and birth order affect attitudes and decision making?


  • To study the profile of the respondents.
  • To study the levels of attitude and decision-making styles.
  • To study the levels of the rational, intuitive, dependent, avoidant and spontaneous styles.
  • To study the levels of attitude towards self.
  • To know the relationship between decision making and attitude towards self
  • To understand if there is an impact of age and gender on decision making and attitude towards self.
  • To know if there is any difference in the attitude and decision-making style based on birth order


  • There is a relationship between attitude and decision-making style.
  • There exists difference in the attitude and decision-making style based on birth order
  • There is a correlation between age and decision making.
  • There is a correlation between decision-making styles and attitudes towards self.
  • There is a correlation between first born/middle born with decision making and attitudes


Research Design

Research design is the logical and systematic planning in directing the research. The present study is performed using a quantitative methodology with a non-experimental comparative design and propose to analyse my data using measures of central tendency, dispersion, correlation and t-test. Non-experimental comparative design is also known as correlational research design. Within correlational research, researchers are primarily interested in determining non-causal relationships amongst variables. More specifically, the correlational research design is a type of non-experimental study in which relationships are assessed without manipulating independent variables or randomly assigning participants to different conditions.


The present study aims at 120 young adults who fall in the age group of 16-21. Data was collected from 61 males and 59 females. The researcher focused on first born and middle born young adults. To get the sample, the researcher used purposive sampling method. The sample size has been determined by the institution as the research is conducted in an Under Graduate level.


The researcher used questionnaire method to collect data. The researcher approached different participants in the college setting. Respondents were informed that participation was voluntary and that the information provided by them in the questionnaire will be confidential. The participants were requested to answer the questions with complete honesty and were supposed to be as reliable as possible. They were also informed that there was no definite time limit to finish the questionnaires.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria

  • Participants who fall in the age group of 16-21
  • Participants who were the first born and middle born child

Exclusion Criteria

  • Participants with more than four siblings were avoided.
  • Participants other than Hyderabad.

Research Instrument

General Decision-Making Style (GDMS)

The General Decision-Making Styles Questionnaire (GDMS) was developed by Scott and Bruce in 1995. GDMS is a very easy to administer, self-report questionnaire consisting of 25 items. It is comprised of five subscales: rational, intuitive, dependent, avoidant, and spontaneous decision-making styles. A higher score on any of the five scales indicates a higher presence of that particular decision-making style. The GDMS has good validity and reliability ratings. Scott and Bruce (1995) have validated each of the five scales on the GDMS. Content and face validity range from .68 to .95, internal reliability ranges from .67 to .87, and test-retest reliability ranges from .58 to .67 (Spicer & Sadler-Smith, 2005). Internal reliability for the rational scale is reported to be between .77 and .85, the intuitive scale, .78-.84, the avoidant scale, .93-.94, the dependent scale, .68- .86, and the spontaneous scale, .87.

Attitude Towards Self (ATS)

The Attitudes Towards Self (ATS) Scale was developed by Charles Carver in 1983. This instrument measures three constructs: holding of overly high standards; the tendency to be self-critical at any failure to perform well; and the tendency to generalize from a single failure to the broader sense of self-worth. The instrument consists of 10 questions scored on a 5-point rating scale. Scoring Instructions were clearly given him. All items except question five were to be reverse scored. The three scales of the ATS are factorially distinct, and several samples have demonstrated this. Alpha reliabilities in these samples were on average .76 for the High Standards Scale, .78 for the Self Criticism Scale, and .78 for the Generalisation Scale. In this sample, women reported a stronger tendency towards Generalisation. Internal consistency of the three subscales and of the entire scale was very good (α - Cronbach coefficients of 0.71 to .90).

Data Analysis

Percentages have been calculated to analyse the profile of the respondents that include Age, Gender, Family Size, Religion, Family Type, Personality, Parent support, Home Environment, Number of siblings and Relationship with siblings. The measures of central tendency and standard deviation of the variables, decision making, and attitudes was calculated separately. Correlations and t- test was also applied wherever it is required.


Table 1 shows the t-test ration between birth order and decision-making styles and attitudes.

First Born

Middle Born





















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High Standards







































In Table 4, an independent sample t-test was conducted to compare birth order to the two scales that is decision making styles and attitude towards self. There was no significant difference found between first born and middle born respondents in the subscales of Decision-Making Styles and Attitude Towards Self. Difference based on Self-Criticism was observed.

Table 2 shows the correlation between Age, decision making and attitude towards self.

Attitudes Towards High Standards Self Criticism Generalization Age


Decision .186* .185* -.208*


Rational 0.203*

Intuitive .281**

Dependent .255* - .212*

Avoidant 0.218* .281** .241** -.266**



** Correlation is significant at 0.01 level (2-tailed)

* Correlation is significant at 0.05 level (2-tailed)

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Decision Making Styles and Attitudes Towards Self in Young Adults: Essence of Birth Order Psychology. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“Decision Making Styles and Attitudes Towards Self in Young Adults: Essence of Birth Order Psychology.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
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