Information Processing and Age Differences in Social Decision-Making

Chia Chen Chao, George P. Knight, Alan F. Dubro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Previous research has consistently demonstrated age differences in outcome-interdependent social decision-making. A task analysis indicated that the equality, group enhancement, and superiority social decisions require a greater information processing load (i.e., are relatively complex) than the altruism, rivalry, and individualism social decisions. Four experiments were conducted to validate the task analysis and to examine the influence of a social decision-making task modification designed to reduce the information processing demands of the equality and superiority social decisions. The results indicated that adults took longer to identify the complex than the simple social outcomes; adults and 3- to 7-year-olds made more errors identifying the complex than the simple social outcomes; 3- to 7-year-olds who made complex social decisions made fewer outcome identification errors, particularly for the complex social outcomes, than those who made simple social decisions; a modification of the social outcome identification task produced a reduction in the outcome identification error rates among 4- to 7-year-olds, particularly for the complex social outcomes; and a modification of the social decision-making task eliminated the age differences in social decision-making across 3- to 6-year-old age range. A cognitive social learning interpretation and the implications for related developmental social cognition research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-508
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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