Losing a dime with a satisfied mind: positive affect predicts less search in sequential decision making.

Abstract

We investigated the contribution of cognitive ability and affect to age differences in sequential decision making by asking younger and older adults to shop for items in a computerized sequential decision-making task. Older adults performed poorly compared to younger adults partly due to searching too few options. An analysis of the decision process with a formal model suggested that older adults set lower thresholds for accepting an option than younger participants. Further analyses suggested that positive affect, but not fluid abilities, was related to search in the sequential decision task. A second study that manipulated affect in younger adults supported the causal role of affect: Increased positive affect lowered the initial threshold for accepting an attractive option. In sum, our results suggest that positive affect is a key factor determining search in sequential decision making. Consequently, increased positive affect in older age may contribute to poorer sequential decisions by leading to insufficient search.

DOI: 10.1037/a0027845

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Cite this paper

@article{Helversen2012LosingAD, title={Losing a dime with a satisfied mind: positive affect predicts less search in sequential decision making.}, author={Bettina von Helversen and Rui Mata}, journal={Psychology and aging}, year={2012}, volume={27 4}, pages={825-39} }