Date of Defense

2009

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Probability discounting was investigated in children, young adults and older adults. The study was designed to systematically replicate a study by Green, Fry, and Myerson (1994) with children, young adults and older adults that found that children were more impulsive than young adults and older adults on a delay-discounting procedure. All participants chose between small certain and larger but probabilistic hypothetical monetary amounts. The probability of the large amount was varied across blocks of trials. Two large amounts were investigated for each group. At each probability of the large amount, the amount of the small certain option was decreased across trials to determine an indifference point between the two options. Eleven children, 17 young adults and 15 older adults showed orderly probability discounting. Results showed that the children and young adults discounted the smaller reward at a much slower rate than the larger reward indicating greater risk proneness for the smaller reward. The older adults discounted the larger reward at a much slower rate than the smaller amount, indicating greater risk proneness for the larger probable reward. The rates of discounting were much higher for the older adults for both amounts compared to the rates of discounting for the children and young adults and the young adults showed lower discounting rates than children. The results are consistent with Green, et al. showing that there is an age related difference in probability discounting, with older adults showing more probability discounting (risk aversion) than younger adults or children.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only

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