Information Foraging in the Unknown Patches across the Life Span


This study used a word search puzzle paradigm to examine the effects of task environment and individual differences in ability on information foraging. Younger and older adults attempted to maximize the number of items found in a set of 4 puzzles in which they were at liberty to search within a puzzle or switch between them. Younger adults demonstrated faster uptake (i.e., number of words found as a function of time) from individual puzzles than older adults but experienced more deceleration of rates during the search. Additionally, older adults switched less often and their switching was less dependent on the uptake rate compared to younger adults. Both younger and older adults stayed longer than was optimal in a patch, older adults were especially likely to persevere suboptimally. Collectively, these results suggest that individuals may differentially optimize information gain through self-regulation of exploration and exploitation.

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