Cognitive Aging and Tests of Rationality

Sanghyuk Park, Clintin P. Davis-Stober, Hope K. Snyder, William Messner, Michel Regenwetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated whether older adults are more likely than younger adults to violate a foundational property of rational decision making, the axiom of transitive preference. Our experiment consisted of two groups, older (ages 60-75; 21 participants) and younger (ages 18-30; 20 participants) adults. We used Bayesian model selection to investigate whether individuals were better described via (transitive) weak order-based decision strategies or (possibly intransitive) lexicographic semiorder decision strategies. We found weak evidence for the hypothesis that older adults violate transitivity at a higher rate than younger adults. At the same time, a hierarchical Bayesian analysis suggests that, in this study, the distribution of decision strategies across individuals is similar for both older and younger adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE57
JournalSpanish Journal of Psychology
StatePublished - 2019


  • cognitive aging
  • probabilistic choice
  • random preference
  • rational decision making
  • transitivity of preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • General Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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