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Developmental differences in description-based versus experience-based decision making under risk in children

Rolison, Jonathan J and Pachur, Thorsten and McCormack, Teresa and Feeney, Aidan (2022) 'Developmental differences in description-based versus experience-based decision making under risk in children.' Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 219. p. 105401. ISSN 0022-0965 (In Press)

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The willingness to take a risk is shaped by temperaments and cognitive abilities, both of which develop rapidly during childhood. In the adult developmental literature, a distinction is drawn between description-based tasks, which provide explicit choice-reward information, and experience-based tasks, which require decisions from past experience, each emphasizing different cognitive demands. Although developmental trends have been investigated for both types of decisions, few studies have compared description-based and experience-based decision making in the same sample of children. In the current study, children (N = 112; 5-9 years of age) completed both description-based and experience-based decision tasks tailored for use with young children. Child temperament was reported by the children's primary teacher. Behavioral measures suggested that the willingness to take a risk in a description-based task increased with age, whereas it decreased in an experience-based task. However, computational modeling alongside further inspection of the behavioral data suggested that these opposite developmental trends across the two types of tasks both were associated with related capacities: older (vs. younger) children's higher sensitivity to experienced losses and higher outcome sensitivity to described rewards and losses. From the temperamental characteristics, higher attentional focusing was linked with a higher learning rate on the experience-based task and a bias to accept gambles in the gain domain on the description-based task. Our findings demonstrate the importance of comparing children's behavior across qualitatively different tasks rather than studying a single behavior in isolation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Children; Computational modeling; Decision making under risk; Description-based decision making; Experience-based decision making; Risk taking
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2022 15:51
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2022 16:35

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