Reducing the framing effect in older and younger adults by encouraging analytic processing

Ayanna K. Thomas, Peter R. Millar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Objectives. The present study explored whether the framing effect could be reduced in older and younger adults using techniques that influenced the accessibility of information relevant to the decision-making processing. Accessibility was manipulated indirectly in Experiment 1 by having participants engage in concurrent tasks, and directly in Experiment 2, through an instructions manipulation that required participants to maintain a goal of analytic processing throughout the experimental trial. Methods. We tested 120 older and 120 younger adults in Experiment 1. Participants completed 28 decision trials while concurrently either performing a probability calculation task or a memory task. In Experiment 2, we tested 136 older and 136 younger adults. Participants completed 48 decision trials after either having been instructed to "think like a scientist" or base decisions on "gut reactions." Results. Results demonstrated that the framing effect was reduced in older and younger adults in the probability calculation task in Experiment 1 and under the "think like a scientist" instructions manipulation in Experiment 2. Discussion. These results suggest that when information relevant to unbiased decision making was made more accessible, both older and younger adults were able to reduce susceptibility to the framing effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume67 B
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Aging
  • Cognitive resources
  • Decision making
  • Framing effect


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