Age-related changes in decision making have been attributed to deterioration of cognitive skills, such as learning and memory. On the basis of past research showing age-related decreases in the ability to inhibit irrelevant information, we hypothesize that these changes occur, in part, because of older adults’ tendency to give more weight to low-level, subordinate, and goal-irrelevant information than younger adults do. Consistent with this hypothesis, our findings demonstrated that young adults are willing to pay more for a product with superior end attributes than a product with superior means attributes (Study 1, N = 200) and are more satisfied after an experience with superior end than means attributes (Study 2, N = 399). Young adults are also more satisfied with a goal-relevant than with a goal-irrelevant product (Study 3, N = 201; Study 4, N = 200, preregistered). Importantly, these effects were attenuated with age. Implications for research on construal level and aging, as well as implications for policymakers, are discussed.
- construal level
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