How does aging impact decision making? The contribution of cognitive decline and strategic compensation revealed in a cognitive architecture

Fechner, Hanna Bettine and Pachur, Thorsten and Schooler, Lael J.. (2019) How does aging impact decision making? The contribution of cognitive decline and strategic compensation revealed in a cognitive architecture. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45 (9). pp. 1634-1663.

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Older adults often face decline in cognitive resources. How does this impact their decision making- especially under high cognitive demands from concurrent activities? Do older adults' decision processes uniformly decline with increasing mental strain relative to younger adults, or do they compensate for decline by strategically reallocating resources? Using empirical data and computational modeling, we investigated older and younger adults' execution of two decision strategies in a multiat- tribute judgment task, while varying the demands from a concurrent task. One strategy (take-the-best) involves searching attributes in order of importance until one attribute favors one alternative; the other strategy (tallying) requires the integration of attributes favoring each alternative. Although older adults executed both strategies quite accurately, they performed worse and more slowly than younger adults. Moreover, when the concurrent demands increased, both age groups executed the strategies less accurately and more slowly. Crucially, when take-the-best required searching an increasing number of attributes, participants' accuracy and speed initially decreased with increasing search requirements, but accuracy recovered and the slowing lessened at the highest search requirements; this pattern was particularly prominent in older adults and most pronounced under the highest concurrent demands. Simulations with models in the cognitive architecture ACT-R showed how decline in specific cognitive resources can contribute to older adults' decrements in strategy execution. However, accommodating older adults' preserved strategy execution of take-the-best under the highest demands required assuming compensatory shifts in resource allocation. Thus, cognitive decline and strategic compensation applied under highest demands provided complementary accounts for older adults' decision behavior.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Forschungsbereich Sozial-, Wirtschafts- und Entscheidungspsychologie > Economic Psychology (Rieskamp)
UniBasel Contributors:Fechner, Hanna Bettine
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:01 Feb 2021 11:18
Deposited On:01 Feb 2021 11:18

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