Developmental insights into experience-based decision making

Tim Rakow*, Saleema B. Rahim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)


In three experiments involving children and adults (N = 324), option payoffs for sure versus risky choices were either described or experienced via observation of 20 outcomes. Choices revealed a description-experience gap for payoffs with rare events, implying greater impact of small probabilities (≤.2) for described than for experienced choices. The size of this effect was independent of participant age. Therefore, the role of cognitive limitations in the description-experience distinction remains unclear, as the age groups would have differed in cognitive capacity. Age-related differences in 'sampling style' in decisions from experience were observed. Pre-choice data acquisition changed markedly with age: From frequent alternation between options towards separate systematic exploration of options with increasing age. A fourth experiment, that manipulated sampling style, failed to demonstrate its link to other age-related features of choice (e.g. risk preferences). Our studies illustrate the value of developmental research for testing theoretical claims and revealing novel phenomena in decision research.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationJournal of Behavioral Decision Making
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • Decisions from experience
  • Description versus experience
  • Information acquisition
  • Risky choice
  • Sampling
  • Sequence-order effects


Dive into the research topics of 'Developmental insights into experience-based decision making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this