Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC Irvine

Decision Making and Exploration During Childhood

No data is associated with this publication.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

This dissertation examines how decision-making strategies and exploration patterns change across the human lifespan. My research creates child-friendly versions of classical measures used to investigate adult’s decision making. In Chapters 2 and 3, I investigate what risk-taking looks like across development. By creating child-friendly versions the Iowa Gambling Task and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task, I find that children lean towards being more risk-seeking. However, many preschoolers seem to act randomly, suggesting that children do not understand the task at hand. In Chapters 4 and 5, I investigate how children balance exploration-exploitation by designing child-friendly bandit tasks. I find evidence that children are much more explorative than adults on bandit tasks. In Chapter 5, I uncover a potential benefit of high-levels of exploration during childhood; exploration helps children discover changes in the world that adults fail to notice. In Chapter 6, I discuss the limitations of exploration during childhood, specifically, I find that children do not demonstrate lower levels of inattentional blindness. Finally, in Chapter 7, I discuss the implications of these results for the fields of cognitive science, developmental psychology, education, evolutionary biology, and artificial intelligence.

Main Content

This item is under embargo until May 22, 2025.