Information use in risky decision making: Do age differences depend on affective context?

Joshua A. Weller*, Marcie L. King, Bernd Figner, Natalie L. Denburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The current study focused on the degree to which decision context (deliberative vs. affective) differentially impacted the use of available information about uncertainty (i.e., probability, positive and negative outcome magnitudes, expected value, and variance/risk) when older adults were faced with decisions under risk. In addition, we examined whether individual differences in general mental ability and executive function moderated the associations between age and information use. Participants (N = 96) completed a neuropsychological assessment and the hot (affective) and cold (deliberative) versions of an explicit risk task. Our results did not find a significant Age x Hot/Cold Condition interaction on overall risk-taking. However, we found that older adults were less likely to use the full decision information available regardless of the decision context. This finding suggested more global age differences in information use. Moreover, older adults were less likely to make expected-value sensitive decisions. regardless of the hot/cold context. Finally, we found that low performance on measures of executive functioning. but not general mental ability, appears to be a risk factor for lower information use. This pattern appears in middle age and progressively becomes stronger in older age. The current work provides evidence that common underlying decision processes may operate in risk tasks deemed either affective or deliberative. It further suggests that underlying mechanisms such as information use may be paramount, relative to differences in the affective context. Additionally, individual differences in neuropsychological function may act as a moderator in the tendency to use available information across affective context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1020
JournalPsychology and Aging
Volume34
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • risk taking
  • decision making
  • age differences
  • cognitive aging
  • executive function
  • DELIBERATIVE PROCESSES
  • LIFE-SPAN
  • NORMAL VOLUNTEERS
  • BRAIN CHANGES
  • ADULT AGE
  • R PACKAGE
  • CHOICE
  • SEARCH
  • MEMORY
  • ABILITIES

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