Audience: General public, UoB Students (and other institutions) and academics
Academic: Dr Suzanne Higgs, School of Psychology
How do we mature in our ability to make decisions as we go from our early twenties to retirement? Do we get wiser as we age? Stay the same as ever? Or does decision-making just get harder and harder as the bloom of youth wears off?
An on-going project in Psychology at the University of Birmingham, funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), is asking these questions and measuring the way thousands of people across the UK (ranging in age from 25 to 65 years) make decisions. The project is set up to allow all sorts of people to participate by downloading apps to a tablet.
Using the apps, people in the study play games that require them to make lots of decisions - some easy and fast, others taking a little more thought. The game playing provides the data for the study. With help from the internet, scientists on the project can keep track of the decisions people make in the games, without any need to know the identity of the players.
The project also asks people about their personality and social lives and how they make real decision that affect their health and happiness. By compiling a lot of data from a lot of people the project is developing a clear picture of how different decision-making systems in the brain change as a result of maturation.
This knowledge will be useful for understanding how choices are made in everyday life and will help us understand how to help people make better choices when it comes to money, health and lifestyle.