Washington, Jun 30 (IANS): When it comes to making intuitive decisions, older adults fare as well as their juniors, a new study shows.
Researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU) tested groups of young adults (aged 17-28) and community-dwelling older adults (aged 60-86) to see how they fared when making decisions based on intuitive evaluation.
Participants were asked to choose from a list of apartments based on each apartment's overall positive attributes. Under such conditions, young and older adults were equally adept at making decisions.
Many people believe that getting older leads to poor decision-making. Research shows that it is not that simple. Education and the complexity of the decision play important roles.
"But, not every decision can be made that way, some require active deliberation. For example, those decisions that require people to distinguish pieces of information that are important from those that are unimportant to the decision at hand," says Thomas Hess, professor of psychology at NCSU and study co-author.
"And when it comes to more complex decision-making, older adults face more challenges than their younger counterparts," Hess added.
In one part of the study, participants were given a list of criteria to use in selecting an apartment. That list was then taken away and each participant had to rely on his or her memory to incorporate the criteria into their decision-making.
There was considerable variation among the older adults, some did very well at complex decision-making.
"Older adults with higher education did a better job of remembering specific criteria and utilising them when they made decisions. Ultimately, they made better choices," says Tara Queen, psychology doctoral student at NCSU.
"This tells us that the effects of age on decision-making are not universal. When it comes to making intuitive decisions, like choosing a dish to order from a menu, young and old are similar," Hess says, according to a university release.
"Age differences crop up when it comes to complex decision-making, such as choosing a health-care plan. But even then, it appears that negative effects of ageing will be more evident in those with lower levels of education," Hess concludes.
The study was published in the June issue of Psychology and Aging.