Age Differences in Information Use while Making Decisions: Resource Limitations or Processing Differences?

Joy M. Jacobs-Lawson, Mitzi M. Schumacher, Sarah B. Wackerbarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent research on the decision-making abilities of older adults has shown that they use less information than young adults. One explanation ascribes this age difference to reductions in cognitive abilities with age. The article includes three experimental studies that focused on determining the conditions in which older and young adults would display dissimilar information processing characteristics. Findings from Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that older adults are not necessarily at greater disadvantage than young adults in decision contexts that demand more information processing resources. Findings from Study 3 indicated that older adults when faced with decisions that require greater processing are likely to use a strategy that reduces the amount of information needed, whereas younger adults rely on strategies that utilize more resources. Combined the findings indicate that older adults change their decision-making strategies based on the context and information provided. Furthermore, support is provided for processing difference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-43
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016.


  • age differences
  • cognition
  • decision making
  • information processing
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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