Complexity effects on the children's gambling task
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The Children's Gambling Task (CGT, Kerr & Zelazo, 2004) involves integrating information about losses and gains to maximize winnings when selecting cards from two decks. Both Cognitive Complexity and Control (CCC) theory and Relational Complexity (RC) theory attribute younger children's difficulty to task complexity. In CCC theory, identification of the advantageous deck requires formulation of a higher-order rule so that gains and losses can be considered in contradistinction. According to RC theory, it entails processing the ternary relation linking three variables (deck, magnitude of gain, magnitude of loss). We designed two less complex binary-relational versions in which either loss or gain varied across decks, with the other held constant. The three closely matched versions were administered to 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds. Consistent with complexity explanations, children in all age groups selected cards from the advantageous deck in the binary-relational versions, but only 5-year-olds did so on the ternary-relational CGT.
Copyright 2007 Elsevier. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.