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Equally Flexible and Optimal Response Bias in Older Compared to Younger Adults

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Garton, R, Reynolds, AR, Hinder, MR ORCID: 0000-0002-5240-4790 and Heathcote, A ORCID: 0000-0003-4324-5537 2019 , 'Equally Flexible and Optimal Response Bias in Older Compared to Younger Adults' , Psychology and Aging, vol. 34, no. 6 , pp. 821-835 , doi: 10.1037/pag0000339.

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Abstract

Base-rate neglect is a failure to sufficiently bias decisions toward a priori more likelyoptions. Given cognitive and neurocognitive model-based evidence indicating that, inspeeded choice tasks, (1) age-related slowing is associated with higher and less flexibleoverall evidence thresholds (response caution) and (2) gains in speed and accuracy in relationto base-rate bias require flexible control of choice-specific evidence thresholds (responsebias), it was hypothesised that base-rate neglect might increase with age due to compromisedflexibility of response bias. We administered a computer-based perceptual discrimination taskto 20 healthy older (63–78 years) and 20 younger (18–28 years) adults where base-ratedirection was either variable or constant over trials and so required more or less flexible biascontrol. Using an evidence accumulation model of response times and accuracy (specifically,the Linear Ballistic Accumulator model; Brown & Heathcote, 2008), age-related slowing wasattributable to higher response caution, and gains in speed and accuracy per base-rate biaswere attributable to response bias. Both age groups were less biased than required to achieveoptimal accuracy, and more so when base-rate direction changed frequently. However, biaswas closer to optimal among older than younger participants, especially when base-ratedirection was constant. We conclude that older participants performed better than youngerparticipants because of their greater emphasis on accuracy, and that, by making greaterabsolute and equivalent relative adjustments of evidence thresholds in relation to base-ratebias, flexibility of bias control is at most only slightly compromised with age.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Garton, R and Reynolds, AR and Hinder, MR and Heathcote, A
Keywords: decision-making, healthy ageing, biasing choices
Journal or Publication Title: Psychology and Aging
Publisher: Amer Psychological Assoc
ISSN: 0882-7974
DOI / ID Number: 10.1037/pag0000339
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 American Psychological Association.

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