TitleDifferential focus on probability and losses between young and older adults in risky decision-making.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsO'Brien, EL, Hess, TM
JournalNeuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn
Date Published2020 07
KeywordsAdult, Age Factors, Aged, Aging, Decision Making, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Probability, Risk-Taking, Young Adult

We examined young and older adults' use of descriptive information about risk (i.e., probability and expected value) in financial decision-making. In Experiment 1, participants chose between lotteries in pairs of bets that offered either two risky gains or one risky gain and one sure gain. Whereas they showed a strong and indiscriminate preference for high-probability gambles in risky-risky pairs, they selected sure options at high rates and risky options at low rates in risky-sure pairs, with slightly stronger effects in older relative to young adults due to age differences in ability. Experiment 2 involved the same task but in terms of losses. Participants, especially older adults, preferred low-probability gambles not accounted for by age differences in ability. Results suggest minimal consideration of expected value and a strong focus on probabilities in decision-making. They also suggest that cognitive ability and chronic goals differentially influence age effects depending on risk context.

Alternate JournalNeuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn
PubMed ID31355695
PubMed Central IDPMC6987007
Grant ListR01 AG005552 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States