Decision making: Influence of features and presentation mode upon generation of alternatives



Decision making can be defined as the process of making reasoned choices among alternatives based upon judgments consistent with the values of the decision maker. Models describing decision making generally include: identification of the problem, collection of relevant information, generation of alternatives, identification of consequences of alternatives, and selection of alternatives. This research focuses on the ability of children to generate alternatives in decision-making tasks. The problem was to determine the differential effects of the number of features of a decision-making situation in interview and computer-simulation modes on the number of alternatives children generate. The study involved 208 children with equal numbers of 2nd and 4th grade boys and girls. Each child responded to three decision-making situations either in an interview or computer-simulation mode. The three situations varied on the number of features of the award objects. An increase in the number of features (color) of the award objects (jelly beans) in a decision-making situation increased the number of alternatives generated. The children in this study generated more alternatives in the interview setting than with the computer simulation.