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Group decision-making is optimal in adolescence

By Simone PW Haller, DAN Bang, Bahador Bahrami, Jennifer YF Lau

Posted 10 Sep 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/412726 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-33557-x)

Group decision-making is required in early life in educational settings and central to a well-functioning society. However, there is little research on group decision-making in adolescence, despite the significant neuro-cognitive changes during this period. Researchers have studied adolescent decision-making in 'static' social contexts, such as risk-taking in the presence of peers, and largely deemed adolescent decision-making 'sub-optimal'. It is not clear whether these findings generalise to more dynamic social contexts, such as the discussions required to reach a group decision. Here we test the optimality of group decision-making at different stages of adolescence. Pairs of male pre-to-early adolescents (8 to 13 years of age) and mid-to-late adolescents (14 to 17 years of age) together performed a low-level, perceptual decision-making task. Whenever their individual decisions differed, they were required to negotiate a joint decision. While there were developmental differences in individual performance, the joint performance of both adolescent groups was at adult levels (data obtained from a previous study). Both adolescent groups achieved a level of joint performance expected under optimal integration of their individual information into a joint decision. Young adolescents' joint, but not individual, performance deteriorated over time. The results are consistent with recent findings attesting to the competencies, rather than the shortcomings, of adolescent social behaviour.

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