While exploring issues connected with today’s abundance of choices, we wondered whether there are generational differences in how easily we deal with a great number of options. As the brain ages, does our competence to choose from multiple alternatives diminish?
“Older people typically don’t go for a lot of choice because it’s cognitively harder for them to [decide] when there’s too much choice,” said Dr. Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia Business School. “They get more overwhelmed by complexity.”
Dr. Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, had a contrarian take on age and decision-making. “We don’t have any evidence for differences in the brain,” he asserted. “The most interesting age difference in dealing with choices is that young people pay attention to both positive and negative information, but older people pay particular attention to the positive information and less to the negative information.”