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Decision-making strategies and performance among seniors


  • Besedeš, Tibor
  • Deck, Cary
  • Sarangi, Sudipta
  • Shor, Mikhael


Using paper and pencil experiments administered in senior centers, we examine decision-making performance in multi-attribute decision problems. We differentiate the effects of declining cognitive performance and changing cognitive process on decision-making performance of seniors as they age. We find a significant decline in performance with age due to reduced reliance on common heuristics and increased decision-making randomness among our oldest subjects. However, we find that increasing the number of options in a decision problem increases the number of heuristics brought to the task. This challenges the choice overload view that people give up when confronted with too much choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Besedeš, Tibor & Deck, Cary & Sarangi, Sudipta & Shor, Mikhael, 2012. "Decision-making strategies and performance among seniors," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 524-533.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:524-533
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.07.016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
    2. Cole, Catherine A & Balasubramanian, Siva K, 1993. " Age Differences in Consumers' Search for Information: Public Policy Implications," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 157-169, June.
    3. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 2011. "How individuals choose health insurance: An experimental analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 799-819, August.
    4. Tibor Besedeš & Cary Deck & Sudipta Sarangi & Mikhael Shor, 2012. "Age Effects and Heuristics in Decision Making," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 580-595, May.
    5. Betty E. Tanius & Stacey Wood & Yaniv Hanoch & Thomas Rice, 2009. "Aging and choice: Applications to Medicare Part D," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 4(1), pages 92-101, February.
    6. Arne Risa Hole, 2006. "Small-sample properties of tests for heteroscedasticity in the conditional logit model," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(18), pages 1-14.
    7. W. Kip Viscusi & Joni Hersch, 2001. "Cigarette Smokers As Job Risk Takers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 269-280, May.
    8. Keeney,Ralph L. & Raiffa,Howard, 1993. "Decisions with Multiple Objectives," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521438834, March.
    9. Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Samek, Anya & Hur, Inkyoung & Kim, Sung-Hee & Yi, Ji Soo, 2016. "An experimental study of the decision process with interactive technology," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 20-32.
    2. repec:zbw:rwirep:0537 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Besedes, Tibor & Deck, Cary & Quintanar, Sarah & Sarangi, Sudipta & Shor, Mikhael, 2011. "Free-Riding and Performance in Collaborative and Non-Collaborative Groups," MPRA Paper 33948, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Praveen Kujal & Balint Lenkei, 2015. "Cognitive Reflection Test: Whom, how, when," Working Papers 15-25, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    5. Heiss, Florian & Leive, Adam & McFadden, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2013. "Plan selection in Medicare Part D: Evidence from administrative data," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1325-1344.
    6. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:374-397 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Job Harms & S. Rosenkranz & M.W.J.L. Sanders, 2017. "Choice Complexity, Benchmarks and Costly Information," Working Papers 17-07, Utrecht School of Economics.
    8. Brocas, Isabelle & Carrillo, Juan D & Combs, T. Dalton & Kodaverdian, Niree, 2015. "Consistency in Simple vs. Complex Choices over the Life Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 10457, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Jeffrey R. Brown & Arie Kapteyn & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Olivia S. Mitchell & Anya Samek, 2017. "Behavioral Impediments to Valuing Annuities: Evidence on the Effects of Complexity and Choice Bracketing," NBER Working Papers 24101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Nathan Kettlewell, 2016. "Policy Choice and Product Bundling in a Complicated Health Insurance Market: Do People get it Right?," Discussion Papers 2016-16, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    11. Kairies-Schwarz, Nadja & Kokot, Johanna & Vomhof, Markus & Wessling, Jens, 2014. "How Do Consumers Choose Health Insurance? – An Experiment on Heterogeneity in Attribute Tastes and Risk Preferences," Ruhr Economic Papers 537, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    12. Nadja Kairies-Schwarz & Johanna Kokot & Markus Vomhof & Jens Wessling, 2014. "How Do Consumers Choose Health Insurance? – An Experiment on Heterogeneity in Attribute Tastes and Risk Preferences," Ruhr Economic Papers 0537, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

    More about this item


    Experiments; Decision making; Choice overload; Age effects; Heuristics;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


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