Skip to main content

Explore-exploit decision making: Differences in information-seeking behavior in pediatric psychopathology

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 — Poster Session I

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
FAES Terrace


  • CE Swetlitz
  • BB Averbeck
  • E Leibenluft
  • DS Pine
  • D Pagliaccio


Impairments in decision-making are often associated with various types of pediatric psychopathology. Such perturbations may impact one’s ability to resolve explore-exploit dilemmas, i.e. choosing to pursue a known reward (exploitation) versus a lesser-known option (exploration). Such exploratory decision-making strategies have not yet been studied in a clinical pediatric sample using the present reward choice task. The present study examines group differences in information-seeking behavior in a sample of healthy youth and youth with a variety of psychiatric diagnoses (N=48; 26 healthy volunteers, 22 with primary diagnoses of ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or depression). Participants completed a forced-choice reward task as well as self-report measures to assess anxiety, irritability, and reward sensitivity. Data were split as a function of information about the reward environment given to examine different behavioral outcomes. The percent of times selecting each option was examined as a function of number of decision-making opportunities and the magnitude of the difference between the two options presented. Age and symptoms of anxiety and irritability were examined as continuous predictors of interest. Preliminary results suggest that children with high levels of self-reported anxiety and irritability display greater levels of information-seeking behavior on high-conflict trials with more decision-making opportunities. However, these children do not select the high information/high reward options as much as children in other diagnostic groups. Decision-making may be a valuable way of examining transdiagnostic symptomology. Future work should continue to probe various aspects of the explore-exploit dilemma across clinically diverse samples.

Category: Social and Behavioral Sciences