DePaul Emotion and Cognition Laboratory

Aging and Choice

Given the complexity of Medicare Part D, we became very interested in how older adults approach complex decisions in naturalistic contexts. In the final line of research in the laboratory, we have examined Medicare decision making and have found that older adults place dramatically lower value on increased choice relative to younger adults (Mikels, Reed, & Simon, 2009) and that older adults prefer fewer options than their younger counterparts in all decision domains (Reed, Mikels, & Simon, 2008). Most recently, we have applied these age-related changes in choice and decision making to home loan decisions (Choplin, Stark, & Mikels, in press; Stark, Choplin, Mikels, & McDonnell, in press). In particular, to supplement their income, many older adults consider taking out reverse mortgages— a major financial decision with potentially detrimental consequences. The changes we have uncovered in decision-making processes highlight the vulnerabilities of older adults when facing such a decision, and we have offered important recommendations for mortgage counselors.