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Adult age differences in decision making across domains: Increased discounting of social and health-related rewards.

Psychol Aging. 2016 Nov;31(7):737-746

Authors: Seaman KL, Gorlick MA, Vekaria KM, Hsu M, Zald DH, Samanez-Larkin GR

Abstract
Although research on aging and decision making continues to grow, the majority of studies examine decisions made to maximize monetary earnings or points. It is not clear whether these results generalize to other types of rewards. To investigate this, we examined adult age differences in 92 healthy participants aged 22 to 83. Participants completed 9 hypothetical discounting tasks, which included 3 types of discounting factors (time, probability, effort) across 3 reward domains (monetary, social, health). Participants made choices between a smaller magnitude reward with a shorter time delay/higher probability/lower level of physical effort required and a larger magnitude reward with a longer time delay/lower probability/higher level of physical effort required. Older compared with younger individuals were more likely to choose options that involved shorter time delays or higher probabilities of experiencing an interaction with a close social partner or receiving health benefits from a hypothetical drug. These findings suggest that older adults may be more motivated than young adults to obtain social and health rewards immediately and with certainty. (PsycINFO Database Record

PMID: 27831713 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]