The purpose of this study was to gain understanding about the influence of technology, specifically cellular phones, on decision making during potentially risky situations in the backcountry. Previous research in this area is contradictory and some studies indicate technology is influencing people to take more risks while others suggest it is not. Further confounding the relationship is the fact that previous studies have found people may be taking more risk in the presence of technology were based largely on respondent perceptions, not observation data. The current study used a scenario-based decision model to examine the difference in decision making between those who carried a cell phone on a hike and those who did not. A one-way ANCOVA revealed there was no statistical difference (F=2.18, p=.0898) between the two groups. This indicated people did not take more risks because they carried a cell phone into the backcountry. Risk tolerance and experience hiking long mountain hikes similar to the mountain used in the scenario were the only two variables that influenced decision making in this model. Because cell phones do not adversely influence decision making, it is proposed cell phones and other wireless communication devices be added as a recommended piece of gear to the 10 essentials to help reduce the time it takes for search and rescue to arrive on scene when help is needed.



College and Department

Marriott School of Management; Recreation Management



Date Submitted


Document Type





cellular phone, technology, decision making, heuristics, risk taking, risk propensity, backcountry