Decision-making is an important cognitive process in which individuals select a course of action from among multiple possible actions. This entry describes the types of decisions that are made across the life span; outlines the situational, motivational, and neural factors that may affect decision-making; and reviews the types of tasks that are utilized in studying decision-making.

Developmental Overview

Decisions are made at every age, from infancy to adulthood, and the factors that affect decision-making abilities at each stage are critical to understanding human behavior. Children must make decisions daily from choices about safety (e.g., whether or not to cross the street) to decisions about whom they play with at recess. Younger adults decide whether or not to smoke, drink, or use illicit substances and how much ...

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