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J Exp Child Psychol. 2012 Jan;111(1):87-100. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.07.006. Epub 2011 Sep 10.

Development of decision making: sequential versus integrative rules.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Amsterdam, 1018 WB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Decisions can be made by applying a variety of decision-making rules-sequential rules in which decisions are based on a sequential evaluation of choice dimensions and the integrative normative rule in which decisions are based on an integration of choice dimensions. In this study, we investigated the developmental trajectory of such decision-making rules. In the Gambling Machine Task, participants choose between options that differ in three dimensions: frequency of loss, amount of loss, and certain gain. The task was administered to 231 children and adolescents (age range=8-17 years). Latent group analysis of their performance allowed precise classification of the underlying decision rules. The majority of participants used sequential decision rules, and the number of evaluated dimensions in these rules increased with age. Integrative rule use decreased with age. We discuss these results in light of traditional developmental theories and fuzzy trace theory.

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