Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Rebecca Williamson


Psychological research has revealed that subjective factors influence how people see risk. Most research on risk perception has been done with adults, but developmental research has shown that young children are considerably more risk-seeking than adults. It is unclear how our preferences for risk develop The goal of this dissertation was to consider how feedback influences children’s risky choices. Many psychologists believe risk perception is the result of a struggle between cognitive and affective processes, and both cognitive and affective processes rely on information about past experiences to guide future decisions. Research on children’s riskless decision making has suggested feedback may be important in children’s risky choice. Study 1 was designed to investigate the effect of outcome feedback and reward timing on children’s risky choice. I manipulated the timing of outcome feedback and reward following a simplified novel risky choice task. My results suggested that children who receive rewards immediately after making a decision tend to take fewer risks than those who receive rewards after a delay regardless of when outcome feedback is provided. Thus, children may use rewards to help track their performance. Study 2 was designed to investigate first whether encountering failure in a risk-taking task affects children’s responses in later trials, and second, how framing a gamble as a gain or loss influences children’s responses to feedback. Children appear to be responsive to feedback about repeated failure as well as framing effects, but only after gaining experience with the task


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Available for download on Friday, December 04, 2099