- On the art of choosing: Developmental changes and individual differences in decision making under risk
- Award date
- 26 June 2013
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
In this thesis children’s, adolescents’, and adults’ risky choice was studied by using a multidisciplinary theoretical and methodological approach. Across these studies, some general conclusions emerge. First, individual differences are key. Although adolescence may generally be a phase of heightened emotionality, not all adolescents are risk takers and the methods in this thesis (latent class analysis and formal modeling) are useful tools to characterize individual differences. Second, context matters. That is, in this thesis contexts were studied that varied in the immediacy of outcomes and the explicitness of choice information. Understanding in which contexts risk-taking occurs, and how that is predictive for other contexts, is a promising target for future research. Finally, decomposition is essential. That is, decomposition may indicate which components of the decision process drive observed behavior. A challenge for future studies will be to further construct tasks that allow decomposition of the decision process, trigger affective engagement, and predict daily-life risky choice.
Advancing the understanding of developmental changes in risky decision-making is important before starting ambitious next steps such as finding tools to optimize children’s and adolescents’ decisions. As is apparent from the mixture of theories and methods in this thesis, this is both an exciting and a challenging field. But who said decision making (or decision making research) was ever easy?
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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