CONTACT: GEORGE MCCRORY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: May 31, 2002
UI professor earns $262,000 NSF grant to study decision-making biases
P. Levin, University of Iowa professor of psychology and marketing, has won
a $262,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study how children
make risky decisions as compared to adults.
Levin's project, "Development of Tasks for Studying Decision Biases
in Children," has developed out of more than 30 years of decision-making
research at the UI. While previous research has focused on adults, Levin is
now turning his attention to children, ages 4-6, to determine whether they
have the same tendencies as adults to make risky choices to avoid a loss and
to make less risky choices to achieve a gain.
Levin's research team will examine whether children are more, less, or equally
inclined toward this "decision bias" and whether differences in
children's decision making are predictable based on personality, cognitive,
and social development.
Existing research, which has been done almost exclusively with adults, has
linked these individual differences to stable personality traits and decision
styles, Levin said. "This naturally brings up the dual questions of when
such biases develop and whether they can be linked to distinctive childhood
dispositions. We have the capability of relating children's decision-making
behavior to measures such as shyness, impulsivity, and intelligence,"
A major resource for these studies is a group of 5- and 6 year-olds whose
social and emotional development and cognitive capacity have been tracked
since they were toddlers.
The research team also plans to examine the correlation between children's
decisions and those of their parents on similar tasks and games. To compare
children and adults, the research team must first develop a variety of test
tasks that can be completed by children but still capture the essence of the
decision processes of adults.
Levin also won a $6,000 Center for Advanced Studies Spelman Rockefeller
(CASSPR) grant from the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies for the task-development
phase of the research. The CASSPR grants are designed to support the early
stages of research projects studying children and their families.