The ecological rationality of children’s option generation and decision making


In everyday life, before deciding what to do, one has to think about what could be done. We investigate option generation from a developmental perspective, testing the predictions of the Take-The-First-heuristic (TTF). Moreover, we examine the influence of time limitation on decision-making processes. Using soccer as a testbed, 6- to 13-year-old children (N = 97) were tested in a video-based option-generation paradigm. Children’s performance was aligned with predictions of TTF: Children generated a mean of 2.21 options, did so in a meaningful way and selected the first as final option in 74%. With shorter time, children generated fewer and higher quality options, selected better options and more often the first option as final decision. Further, with age, an increase of the number of options generated and an increase in quality of the final decisions emerged. This age effect was more pronounced with shorter time. Implications for real-life decision-making are discussed.

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