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Age-related differences in adaptive decision making: Sensitivity to expected value in risky choice

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  • Irwin P. Levin
  • Joshua A. Weller
  • Ashley A. Pederson
  • Lyndsay A. Harshman

Abstract

While previous research has found that children make more risky decisions than their parents, little is known about the developmental trajectory for the ability to make advantageous decisions. In a sample of children, 5--11 years old, we administered a new risky decision making task in which the relative expected value (EV) of the risky and riskless choice options was varied over trials. Younger children (age 5--7) showed significantly less responsiveness to EV differences than their parents on both trials involving risky gains and trials involving risky losses. For older children (age 8--11) this deficit was smaller overall but was greater on loss trials than on gain trials. Children of both ages made more risky choices than adults when risky choices were disadvantageous. We further analyzed these results in terms of children's ability to utilize probability and outcome information, and discussed them in terms of developing brain structures vital for decision making under uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • Irwin P. Levin & Joshua A. Weller & Ashley A. Pederson & Lyndsay A. Harshman, 2007. "Age-related differences in adaptive decision making: Sensitivity to expected value in risky choice," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 2, pages 225-233, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:2:y:2007:i::p:225-233
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. William Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Lise Vesterlund, 2002. "Risk Attitudes of Children and Adults: Choices Over Small and Large Probability Gains and Losses," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 5(1), pages 53-84, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Patricia C. Grieggs, 2010. "Variations in Individual Decision Making: Children, Adults, and Economic Theory," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 55(2), pages 124-135, November.
    2. Säve Söderberg, Jenny & Sjögren Lindquist, Gabriella, 2014. "Children do not behave like adults: Gender gaps in performance and risk taking," Working Paper Series 7/2013, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    3. Mkael Symmonds & Nicholas D Wright & Elizabeth Fagan & Raymond J Dolan, 2013. "Assaying the Effect of Levodopa on the Evaluation of Risk in Healthy Humans," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 8(7), pages 1-10, July.
    4. Jenny Säve-Söderbergh & Gabriella Sjögren Lindquist, 2014. "Children Do Not Behave Like Adults: Gender Gaps in Performance and Risk Taking within a Random Social Context in the High-Stakes Game Shows Jeopardy and Junior Jeopardy," CESifo Working Paper Series 4595, CESifo.
    5. Angela A. Hung & Andrew M. Parker & Joanne K. Yoong, 2009. "Defining and Measuring Financial Literacy," Working Papers WR-708, RAND Corporation.

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