Psychology and Aging Preferences for Choice Across Adulthood: Age Trajectories and Potential Mechanisms



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Discussion

The present study was designed to elucidate the pattern and underlying mechanisms of age differences in choice set size preferences. As predicted, age was negatively associated with self- reported choice preferences for nearly all choice domains, and this age pattern was linear in nature. Moreover, age effects were consistent across self-reports and a behavioral task, and choice preferences were associated with information search tendencies.
However, none of the hypothesized mechanisms could account forage effects Age remained a significant predictor of choice preferences when controlling fora wide array of covariates, ranging from trait-like variables related to decision making (i.e., maximizing, self-efficacy, future time perspective, need for cognition, and personality) to cognitive variables (i.e., digit span, numeracy, and vocabulary) to optimal choice beliefs.
Findings from the present study replicate and extend prior research on age differences in choice preferences in several ways. Whereas previous studies in this area only compared choice set size preferences at the extreme ends of the adult lifespan (Reed et al., 2008) or were restricted to a single choice domain (Rozin et al., 2006), the present study systematically examined age differences across a variety of domains and the full adult lifespan. Results from the survey component suggest that choice set size preferences decrease in a gradual,
linear manner over the course of adulthood, and that this trend applies
Table 3
Intercorrelations (Spearman’s

) and Regression Analyses for Age, Self-Reported Choice

Preferences, and Covariates
Correlation
Regression on self-reported choice preferences
Variable
Age
Self-reported choice preferences
Age

Covariate

Decision-relevant traits
Decision-making self-efficacy
.11

.00

.26
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.08
Memory self-efficacy

.19
ⴱⴱ
.02

.26
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ

.02
Optimal choice belief

.09
.19
ⴱⴱ

.24
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.17
ⴱⴱ
Preference accessibility
.39
ⴱⴱ

.05

.27
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.04
Maximizing

.47
ⴱⴱ
.13


.25
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.01
Need for cognition
.04
.02

.26
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.05
Future time perspective

.54
ⴱⴱ
.16
ⴱⴱ

.25

ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.01
Personality traits
Neuroticism

.13

.01

.25
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ

.01
Extraversion
.04

.05

.25
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.01
Openness

.03
.04

.25
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ

.01
Agreeableness
.06
.06

.26
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.08
Conscientiousness
.16
ⴱⴱ

.05

.26
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.05
Cognitive abilities
Digit span

.24
ⴱⴱ
.05

.26
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ

.04
Numeracy

.21
ⴱⴱ
.07

.27
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ

.07
Vocabulary
.47
ⴱⴱ

.14


.19
ⴱⴱ

.14


p

.05.
ⴱⴱ
p

.01.

ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
p

.001.
Table 4
Intercorrelations (Spearman’s

) and Regression Analyses for
Age, Behavioral Choice Preferences, and Covariates
Behavioral choice preferences correlation
Regression on behavioral choice preferences
Variable
Age

Covariate

Decision-relevant traits
Decision-making self-efficacy

.02

.31
ⴱⴱ
.12
Memory self-efficacy
.17


.27
ⴱⴱ
.15
Optimal choice belief
.17


.26
ⴱⴱ
.13
Preference accessibility

.05

.39
ⴱⴱⴱⴱ
.19

Maximizing
.29
ⴱⴱ

.22

.14
Need for cognition
.15

.29
ⴱⴱ
.16

Future time perspective
.21


.22

.12
Personality traits
Neuroticism
.09

.29
ⴱⴱ
.01
Extraversion

.13


.29
ⴱⴱ

.05
Openness

.09

.29
ⴱⴱ
.00
Agreeableness

.01

.29
ⴱⴱ

.09
Conscientiousness

.19


.26
ⴱⴱ

.18

Cognitive abilities
Digit span
.10

.33
ⴱⴱ

.08
Numeracy
.23


.27

.09
Vocabulary

.10

.29
ⴱⴱ
.01



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