Jacqueline Zadelaar

foto-jacqueline-zadelaarDevelopmental Psychology
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
University of Amsterdam

E-mail Jacqueline Zadelaar


Why speeding on your scooter is a good idea: Decision strategies in childhood and adolescence

Children and adolescents may make decisions different from adults. We theorize that, whereas adults are able to integrate multiple decision attributes, children and adolescents are unable to do so. Specifically, we argue that children and adolescents use decision strategies in which attributes are treated sequentially: first, the most important attribute is considered, if options differ sufficiently on this attribute, a decision is made; if not, the second most important attribute is considered, etc. This strategy may yield suboptimal decisions, as positive differences on one attribute are not compensated by negative differences on others. As this may have far reaching consequences, it is important to investigate this phenomenon. We assess our theory by testing three key hypotheses. First, we test whether decisions of children and adolescents are better described by formal sequential models than by formal integrative models. Second, we test whether an intervention derived from our theory is beneficial for suboptimal decision makers. Third, we test whether decision related brain networks are characterized by features indicative of sequential decision strategies.

In the methodological projects, we develop methods to model decision strategies and to analyze strategy differences in neuroimaging data. In the empirical projects, we apply these methods to test the three key hypotheses. Therefore this research program provides a stringent test of our theory of decision making by children and adolescents, yields a new intervention, and provides new statistical methods that have wider applicability.

Prof. H. Huizenga, Dr L. Waldorp & Dr W. Weeda

Financed by

1 October 2016 – 8 October 2021