Disadvantage and Economic Decision Making in Children

Worksite Location
Tompkins, Cortland CCE plus 4-H programs
Faculty Sponsor
Gary Evans and David Just
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Carole Fisher; Anna Steinkraus
Stipend Amount
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Lower income adults on average are not as good at estimating the relative advantage of a future reward versus an immediate reward. A critical question about this fact is why? Many economists argue that bad economic decision making leads to poverty; whereas many psychologists, and a few economists, challenge this notion, arguing that stress accompanying poverty might lead to bad economic decision making. Of course both views might be correct to some extent. We are interested in examining the origins of bias in economic decision making and whether changes in relative economic status might alter decision making. Thus we will recruit a sample of 80 4th and 5th grade children, half who are eligible for government lunch subsidy and half who are not. In addition, half of these children will also play an abbreviated Monopoly Game where one person (randomly) will be given half the funds at the onset of the game. This simulation of relative deprivation has proven effective in altering adult's decision making.
For all children, whether in the simulated game or not, we will measure preferences for binary choices between varying amounts of candy immediately compared to a larger amount in 1, 3, 7, or 14 days. This research is highly relevant to learning about financial decision making and potentially useful in examining how discounting behavior develops in children.

Roles and Responsibilities

The intern would be involved in every facet of this project from pilot testing the protocol, recruiting participants, collecting and analyzing data, drafting a summary report, and working with CCE supervisor to inform consumer education curricula on delayed discounting and its relevance to family economic decision making.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CHE freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.

Ideally the student would have an introductory course in developmental psychology as well as in micro economics. We assume the student would have to be either in Human Ecology or CALS but are open to your advice since this is truly cross-college collaboration between a child psychologist (Evans) and an economist (Just).

Benefits and Skills

- Research experience both at the conceptualizing stage and in actual field work
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Work with faculty and CCE professionals on translation of research into practice