Age Differences in Complex Decision Making

Ellen Peters, Nathan F. Dieckmann, Joshua Weller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


This chapter explores research and theories that address some of the issues that older adults (generally defined as 65 years and older) face in making everyday judgments and decisions. A decision is a choice between two or more options or alternatives. One of those options could be the status quo. A judgment, in contrast, is the psychological appraisal or evaluation of information. It is an understanding of a situation or an individual. Life-span theories are used fruitfully to provide predictions about age differences in judgment and decision-making. Life-span theories also point toward phenomena in decision making that have been little studied. Because older adults process information in ways that are different from younger adults, how they construct their preferences will also be different. These preference-construction processes may thus play a determining role in choices and undermine the notion of "informed choice" as aspects of the situation push individuals toward particular choices. The power of preference construction, however, can also be harnessed by understanding descriptively how decision makers make choices and normatively (or logically) what they should choose. Finally, one can examine the difference between the normative analysis and descriptive study to offer prescriptive interventions that help decision makers arrive at better choices. © 2011

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of the Psychology of Aging
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780123808820
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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