Adaptive Strategic Variations in Human Cognition Across the Life Span

Thomas Hinault, Patrick Lemaire

Abstract


This paper provides an overview of how a strategy perspective fruitfully contributes to our understanding of psychological adaptation in problem-solving tasks, as well as how strategic adaptation develops across lifespan. Indeed, people do not use a single strategy to solve various problems, nor do their strategies remain the same across their lifespan. Problem-solving performance is determined by efficient strategy selection and execution, and strategy effectiveness is modulated by characteristics of problems, strategies, situations, and participants. Multiple strategy use help participants to obtain better performance through strategic adaptations. Strategic adaptations can be defined as participants’ calibrations of how they accomplish cognitive tasks as a function of different task parameters.  Moreover, this review consider how strategic adaptation mechanisms are implemented during childhood, as well as aging effects on the ability to select and execute strategies adaptively given environmental constraints. Third, the role of working memory capacity and executive processes in strategy use and in age-related changes in strategy adaptativeness are discussed. This review illustrates developmental changes of strategic adaptation during childhood and adulthood with findings from a variety of cognitive domains, including decision making and arithmetic problem solving.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jet.v3i1.8967

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