Deal or no deal: 5 year olds make smart decisions in games of risk

You may have to be over a certain age to be a contestant on "Deal or No Deal", but children as young as five start to maximize their profits - in cookies - when making decisions similar to those on the show, according to research published January 9 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Valerie Dufour and colleagues from the National Center for Scientific Research in France.

Children aged 3-9 were given a cookie and presented the option to either keep it or exchange it for one of 6 identical cups containing cookies. The cookies in the cups could be larger, smaller or equal in size to what they already had. The chances of winning a larger cookie were altered by presenting different combinations of cookie sizes in the cups (3 large, 2 equal and 1 small, for example). In each case, the children were told how many cups had a 'winning' cookie before they made their decision.

Three to four-year-olds could not distinguish between the profits to be had by choosing to exchange their cookie when the odds of winning were greater. Kids aged five and up were better at understanding the odds of winning, and their decisions were affected by chances of losing. They also framed their decisions in the context of previous wins or .

The researchers found that though children over the age of five were risk-seekers, they also exhibited an aversion to loss typically seen in adults. This aversion arises from a 'better safe than sorry' choice but can also lead to errors in adults, causing a loss of potential profits. The results of this study suggest that this is a decision-making pattern that we begin to learn as early as age five.

More information: Steelandt S, Broihanne M-H, Romain A, Thierry B, Dufour V (2013) Decision-Making under Risk of Loss in Children. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52316. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052316

Related Stories

Cookie Monster crater on Mercury

Oct 15, 2012

Big Bird has been grabbing the headlines lately, and its time for another Muppet to get a little face time. So, here's Cookie Monster's face, plastered across the surface of Mercury. Well, it looks like it, ...

A virtual reality scent system that fools human taste

Apr 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Can you fool the human sense of taste in the world of virtual reality? Up until recently that question was impossible to answer, most because it had not been tested. Most of virtual reality ...

Which wheats make the best whole-grain cookie doughs?

Dec 20, 2011

Festive cookies, served at year-end holiday gatherings, may in the future be made with a larger proportion of whole-grain flour instead of familiar, highly refined white flour. That's a goal of ongoing studies by U.S. Department ...

Recommended for you

Toddlers copy their peers to fit in, but apes don't

14 hours ago

From the playground to the board room, people often follow, or conform, to the behavior of those around them as a way of fitting in. New research shows that this behavioral conformity appears early in human ...

Sadness lasts longer than other emotions

15 hours ago

Why is it that you can feel sad up to 240 times longer than you do feeling ashamed, surprised, irritated or even bored? It's because sadness often goes hand in hand with events of greater impact such as death ...

Can parents make their kids smarter?

15 hours ago

Reading bedtime stories, engaging in conversation and eating nightly dinners together are all positive ways in which parents interact with their children, but according to new research, none of these actions ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.