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Aging and decision making: A comparison between neurologically healthy elderly and young individuals

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  • Kovalchik, Stephanie
  • Camerer, Colin F.
  • Grether, David M.
  • Plott, Charles R.
  • Allman, John M.

Abstract

We report the results of experiments on economic decisions with two populations, one of healthy elderly individuals (average age 82) and one of younger students (average age 20). We examine confidence, decisions under uncertainty, differences between willingness to pay and willingness to accept and the theory of mind (strategic thinking). Our findings indicate that the older adults' decision behavior is similar to that of young adults, contrary to the notion that economic decision making is impaired with age. Choices over lotteries do not reflect the age differences previously reported in the psychology and biology literature. Moreover, some of the demonstrated decision behaviors suggest that the elderly individuals are less biased than the younger individuals.(1)There is a greater prevalence of overconfident behavior in the younger population. (2) Our results show no significant support for a theory of an endowment effect in either population. (3) Both populations perform similarly on the beauty contest task, although there is a modest indication of a higher incidence of confused behavior by the older

Suggested Citation

  • Kovalchik, Stephanie & Camerer, Colin F. & Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R. & Allman, John M., 2003. "Aging and decision making: A comparison between neurologically healthy elderly and young individuals," Working Papers 1180, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:clt:sswopa:1180
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jack L. Knetsch & J. A. Sinden, 1984. "Willingness to Pay and Compensation Demanded: Experimental Evidence of an Unexpected Disparity in Measures of Value," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(3), pages 507-521.
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    3. Antoni Bosch-Domènech & José G. Montalvo & Rosemarie Nagel & Albert Satorra, 2002. "One, Two, (Three), Infinity, ...: Newspaper and Lab Beauty-Contest Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1687-1701, December.
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    Keywords

    Age; overconfidence; willingness to pay/accept; endowment effect; theory of mind; game theory; risk-taking;

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