Experience-based decision making

Every day, we make countless decisions. Often, we are forced to choose among options that differ with respect to risks and benefits. Making good decisions is an invaluable skill, particularly in areas such as health, finance, and relationships. Understanding how people make decisions allows us to develop decision aids for situations where the stakes are high, such as health and finance. In so-called decisions from description, risks and benefits are known ahead of time (e.g., “If I choose the surgery, I have a 60% chance of full recovery,” or “If I go outside, there is a 30% chance of rain”). In the more common decisions from experience, risks and benefits are not so clear-cut. They must be either retrieved from memory, or the decision maker has to search actively for information about the risks and benefits. Little is known about how experience-based decision making changes as we age. In the MAD lab, we use behavioural studies to examine information search, interpretation of risk, and choice behaviour in younger and older adults. This line of research is supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.