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Psychol Aging. 2012 Mar;27(1):129-40. doi: 10.1037/a0024689. Epub 2011 Jul 18.

Risky decision making in younger and older adults: the role of learning.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK. jonathan.rolison@plymouth.ac.uk


Are older adults risk seeking or risk averse? Answering this question might depend on both the task used and the analysis performed. By modeling responses to the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), our results illustrate the value of modeling as compared to relying on common analysis techniques. While analysis of overall measures suggested initially that older and younger adults do not differ in their risky decisions, our modeling results indicated that younger adults were at first more willing to take greater risks. Furthermore, older adults may be more cautious when their decision making is based on initial perceptions of risk, rather than learning following some experience with a task.

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