Older adults prefer less choice than younger adults

In the recent issue of the journal Psychology and Aging, researchers Andrew Reed, Joseph Mikels, and Kosali Simon examined whether older adults would prefer having fewer options when faced with a decision-making task.  Confirming previous research, they found that across 6 domains (e.g., prescription health plans, hospitals), older adults preferred having fewer options rather than greater.

In their study, 102 older adults (ranging in age from 60-94) and 99 younger adults (ranging in age from 18-24) completed questionnaires asking about their desired number of choices in everyday decisions.

The authors surmised that older adults prefered fewer choices because of their awareness of their reduced decision-making competence (metacognitive recognition of their own limitations).

This kind of research certainly could have human factors and design implications.  However, it might be too simplistic to just suggest that we give older adults fewer options.  More research is necessary 🙂

Reed, A. E., Mikels, J. A., & Simon, K. I.  (2008).  Older adults prefer less choice than younger adults.  Psychology and Aging, 23, 671-675.

This brief report reminds me of the easy to read book, The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz.

The Paradox of Choice
The Paradox of Choice

One thought on “Older adults prefer less choice than younger adults”

  1. What kind of choice are we talking about here? Because I know when I go to The Cheesecake Factory and see their mile long menu, I’d much rather have fewer choices. You basically have to know what you want before you can figure out what you want.

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