The Development of Judgment and Decision Making in Children and Adolescents

By Janis E. Jacobs; Paul A. Klaczynski | Go to book overview
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Commentary:
The Development of Thinking

David Moshman

University of Nebraska—Lincoln

From the titles alone, we can see that the three chapters in Part III address judgment (Cauffman & Woolard, chap. 9), decision making (Finken, chap. 8), goal setting (Galotti, chap. 10), and planning (Galotti). But Galotti alerts us in her title that goal setting and planning are central to decision making, and upon reading the chapters, it becomes clear that judgment, decision making, goal setting, and planning cannot be sharply distinguished, and that all of these chapters are about all of them.

Unsurprisingly, there is less said about problem solving and reasoning. The study of problem solving and reasoning has tended to focus on the cognitive processes involved in responding to laboratory tasks, whereas the study of judgment, decision making, and planning has tended to focus on longer term, naturally occurring processes that are as much social and emotional as cognitive. Given this distinction, the present chapters and others in this volume might be said to fall in the latter, and more contemporary, camp.

Let me suggest, however, that the distinction I have just made has more to do with a historical divergence between two psychological research traditions than with the minds of real people. How can one rationally judge, make decisions, set goals, or plan without engaging in problem solving and reasoning ? But how can one solve problems or engage in reasoning without making judgments and decisions? And aren't we more likely to reason correctly and solve our problems if we plan what we are doing and set relevant goals?

Consider, following Finken (chap. 8), an adolescent faced with an unwanted pregnancy. Obviously, she has a problem, and we can say that in solving it, she is engaged in problem solving.

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