Skip to main content
Article
Partition dependence in development: Are children’s decisions shaped by the arbitrary grouping of options?
Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (2018)
  • Sheri Reichelson, Wesleyan University
  • Alexandra Zax, Wesleyan University
  • Andrea L Patalano, Wesleyan University
  • Hilary C. Barth, Wesleyan University
Abstract
The grouping of options into arbitrary categories influences adults’ decisions about allocating choices or resources among those options; this is called “partition dependence.” Partition dependence has been demonstrated in a wide range of contexts in adults and is often presented as a technique for designing choice architectures that nudge people towards better decisions. Whether children also make partition dependent decisions is unknown, as are potential patterns of developmental change. In this experiment (N = 159), we examined whether children exhibit partition dependence using a novel resource allocation task. This novel task, distributing food tokens to zoo animals, did elicit partition dependence in our developmental sample. Both older children (ages 7-10 years) and younger children (ages 3-6 years) made partition dependent allocations, and younger children exhibited a larger partition dependence effect than did older children. This work provides the first evidence that children’s decisions, like adults’, are influenced by the arbitrary grouping of the options, and suggests that younger children may be more susceptible to this influence, at least in the context explored here.
Keywords
  • Partition dependence; diversification bias; decision making; cognitive development
Publication Date
2018
Citation Information
Reichelson, S., Zax, A., Patalano, A. L., & Barth, H. (in press). Partition dependence in development: Are decisions shaped by the arbitrary grouping of options? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.