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Children May Experience Uncertainty in Decision Making

Sep, 2020

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The experiment was conducted with both a touch screen device and an eye-tracking device to calculate their response speed.

Children do not always express emotions in the same way that adults do. Fear and anxiety may come out as anger, combativeness, or withdrawal. Toddlers may not describe their feelings of uncertainty, however, according to the research team from the University of California, Davis, toddlers may experience uncertainty in decision making like older children and adults. During this research, the researchers recruited and examined around 160 toddlers aged 25 to 32 months to understand how the minds of young children work when they perform a task.

In the study, the researchers showed pairs of images of common objects or animals or animals to 2-year-old children and asked them to find one of the objects or animals, for instance, where is the elephant hiding? The same experiment was performed on a group of 80 children. However, the experiment was performed twice to cross-check the results. The experiment was conducted with both a touch screen device and an eye-tracking device to calculate their response speed. After observing children's gaze with eye monitoring and measuring how long it took them to make a decision.

The team looks at how the children collect information before making a decision. Children deliberated on more difficult tests and came to the wrong decision (when images were more similar). To examine the collected data, the researchers used a model named a drift-diffusion model.  With the help of this model, the team can understand their behavior, whether they are less or more confident. The researchers believe that reactions of the children to difficult decisions, as well as their search for more information ultimately become the basis for becoming aware of our uncertainty. The research was published in July 2020 in the Nature Human Behavior journal.

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