Deliberative Choice Strategies in Youths: Relevance to Transdiagnostic Anxiety Symptoms

Elise M. Cardinale, David Pagliaccio, Caroline Swetlitz, Hannah Grassie, Rany Abend, Vincent Costa, Bruno Averbeck, Melissa A. Brotman, Daniel S. Pine, Ellen Leibenluft, Katharina Kircanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Aberrant decision-making characterizes various pediatric psychopathologies; however, deliberative choice strategies have not been investigated. A transdiagnostic sample of 95 youths completed a child-friendly sequential sampling paradigm. Participants searched for the best offer by sampling a finite list of offers. Participants’ willingness to explore was measured as the number of offers sampled, and ideal task performance was modeled using a Markov decision-process model. As in previous findings in adults, youths explored more offers when lists were long compared with short, yet participants generally sampled fewer offers relative to model-estimated ideal performance. Searching deeper into the list was associated with choosing better price options. Analyses examining the main and interactive effects of transdiagnostic anxiety and irritability symptoms indicated a negative correlation between anxiety and task performance (p =.01, η p2 =.08). Findings suggest the need for more research on exploratory decision impairments in youths with anxiety symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-989
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • anxiety
  • computational modeling
  • decision-making
  • exploration
  • irritability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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