Development of affective decision-making was studied in 48 children at two ages (3 and 4 years) using a simplified version of the Iowa Gambling Task (Bechara, Damasio, Damasio, & Anderson, 1994). On each of 50 trials, children chose from 1 of 2 decks of cards that, when turned, displayed happy and sad faces, corresponding to rewards (candies) won and lost, respectively. Cards in 1 deck offered more rewards per trial, but were disadvantageous across trials due to occasional large losses; cards in the other deck offered fewer rewards per trial, but were advantageous overall. On later trials, 4-year-olds made more advantageous choices than 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds made more advantageous choices than would be expected by chance, whereas 3-year-olds made more disadvantageous choices than would be expected by chance. These findings, which were especially pronounced for girls, indicate that affective decision-making develops rapidly during the preschool period, possibly reflecting the growth of neural systems involving orbitofrontal cortex.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada to P.D. Zelazo. The authors thank Dana Liebermann for her help in preparing this article, and Keith Happaney for helpful comments on a previous draft.
- "Hot" executive function
- Executive function
- Orbitofrontal cortex
- Sex differences
- Young children