Individual differences in skewed financial risk-taking across the adult life span.
Older adults are disproportionately targeted by fraud schemes that advertise unlikely but large returns (positively skewed risks). We examined adult age differences in choice and neural activity as individuals considered risky gambles. Gambles were symmetric (50% chance of modest win or loss), positively skewed (25% chance of large gain), or negatively skewed (25% chance of large loss). The willingness to accept positively skewed relative to symmetric gambles increased with age, and this effect replicated in an independent behavioral study. Whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging analyses comparing positively (vs. negatively) skewed trials revealed that relative to younger adults, older adults showed increased anticipatory activity for negatively skewed gambles but reduced activity for positively skewed gambles in the anterior cingulate and lateral prefrontal regions. Individuals who were more biased toward positively skewed gambles showed increased activity in a network of regions including the nucleus accumbens. These results reveal age biases toward positively skewed gambles and age differences in corticostriatal regions during skewed risk-taking, and have implications for identifying financial decision biases across adulthood.
Seaman, KL; Leong, JK; Wu, CC; Knutson, B; Samanez-Larkin, GR
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