Across the life span, people face decisions about their health, finances and well-being. People of all ages therefore need good decision-making competence, referring to the ability to avoid decision biases and to obtain desired life outcomes. Reviews suggest that relatively little is known about how decision-making competence changes with age. However, well-documented aging-related declines in fluid cognitive abilities such as working memory start around age 20, threatening the quality of older adults’ decisions and associated quality of life. Because population age is increasing in the EU and the US, the European Commission sees maintaining older adults’ quality of life as a main policy challenge, and aims for Europe to be a leader in innovative strategies for improving quality of life across the lifespan. To address these pressing concerns, the 3 objectives of the planned research are: (1) Understanding the relationship between aging and decision-making competence across decision tasks, using validated measures of individual differences with EU samples; (2) Applying interdisciplinary insights from lifespan developmental theories to identify non-cognitive skills that facilitate better decision-making competence across the lifespan; (3) Designing and evaluating programs to build those skills that promote decision-making competence across the lifespan. The proposed work will build on new interdisciplinary insights from lifespan developmental theories and behavioral decision research, benefiting from the research program of Professor Bruine de Bruin (the applicant) who recently moved from the University of Leeds (UK) after 10 years at Carnegie Mellon University (US). Requested funds will help to move her research program to the EU, train affiliated junior EU colleagues, raise the team’s EU profile, and inform EU policy on aging. Findings will inform theories of decision making and aging, while promoting better decision making across the adult lifespan.
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