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Kim, S., & Hasher, L. (2005). The attraction effect in decision making: Superior performance by older adults. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58A, 120-133.


Previous work showed that older adults' choice performance can be wiser than that of younger adults (Tentori, Osherson, Hasher, & May, 2001). We contrasted two possible interpretations, a general expertise/wisdom view that suggests that older adults are generally more skilled at making decisions than younger adults and a domain-specific expertise view that suggests that older adults are more skilled decision makers only in domains in which they have greater knowledge. These hypotheses were contrasted using attraction-effect tasks in two different domains: earning extra credit in a course and grocery shopping, domains presumed to be of different levels of knowledge to younger and older adults. Older adults showed consistent choice for both domains; younger adults showed consistent choice only for the extra credit problem. Several explanations of these findings are considered, including Damasio's somatic marker theory and age differences in reliance on heuristic vs. analytic styles.

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