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Children can Make Profit-Making Decisions at Age 5

Update Date: Jan 10, 2013 06:54 AM EST
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Taking decisions that suit our best interests and maximize our profits is a challenge we face several times, almost every day. Researchers say we start taking these decisions when we are as young as 5 years old. According to a new research by Valerie Dufour and colleagues from the National Center for Scientific Research in France, 5-year-old children start to maximize their profits - in cookies, much similar to the show, 'Deal or No Deal'.

For the study, children aged between 3 and 9 were given a cookie and presented with options to either keep it or exchange it for one of six 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) Medical Xpress reported.

Every time, the children were informed how many cups had a 'winning' cookie before they could make their decision. The findings of the research showed that while children aged between three and four could not distinguish between the profits they had by choosing to exchange their cookie at high odds of winning, those aged five and above could better understand the chances of winning, and their decisions were also affected by chances of losing.

Their decisions also depended on the previous wins or losses.

The study revealed that not only were 5-year-old children risk-seekers, they also exhibited an aversion to loss, which is typically seen in adults. The cause of the aversion could be a "better safe than sorry" choice made, but can also lead adults to take wrong decisions, resulting in a loss of potential profits.

The findings of the study overall suggest that we begin to learn this decision-making pattern as early as at age five.

The study was published Jan. 9 in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

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