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


von Helversen, Bettina; Mata, Rui (2012). Losing a dime with a satisfied mind: positive affect predicts less search in sequential decision making. Psychology and Aging, 27(4):825-839.

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.

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.

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5 citations in Web of Science®
8 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:December 2012
Deposited On:03 Mar 2017 09:35
Last Modified:05 Mar 2017 06:15
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0882-7974
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027845
PubMed ID:22449028

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