chapter  4
28 Pages

Aging-Related Changes in Decision Making

ByEllen Peters

In the movie Shrek, the lead character attempts to explain the complexity of ogres to his friend, the donkey. “Ogres are like onions. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers.” Blanchard-Fields, Brannan, and Camp (1987) used a similar onion-peeling analogy when discussing the wisdom that develops with age and experience. They argued that wise reasoning and decision making concern the ability to integrate the multiple layers of thoughts and feelings that individuals have. In other words, dual modes of knowing-one that is based on more experiential and affective processing and another based on more deliberative and logical processing of information-are thought important to being wise. This dual-process approach can be fruitfully extended to our understanding of adult age differences in judgment and decision making. Understanding how decision making may change as we age entails more complicated (and interesting) layers than a cursory glance would suggest.