25 is the ‘golden age’ for the ability to make random choices according to a new study.
That’s right. Step aside sexual peak, cognitive peak, and athletic performance peak… Random Peak is here.
If you’re around my age, you probably remember in middle school how commonly the phrase “Oh my god, your so random” was uttered. Well, a study published in PLOS Computational Biology showed that the ability to choose numbers at random actually peaks around 25 years of age. I guess your not that random after all… middle schoolers.
“To better understand how age impacts random behavior, Nicolas Gauvrit and colleagues at the Algorithmic Nature Group, LABORES for the Natural and Digital Sciences, Paris, assessed more than 3,400 people aged 4 to 91 years old. Each participant performed a series of online tasks that assessed their ability to behave randomly.
The five tasks included listing the hypothetical results of a series of 12 coin flips so that they would “look random to somebody else,” guessing which card would appear when selected from a randomly shuffled deck, and listing the hypothetical results of 10 rolls of a die — “the kind of sequence you’d get if you really rolled a die.”
The scientists analyzed the participants’ choices according to their algorithmic randomness, which is based on the idea that patterns that are more random are harder to summarize mathematically. After controlling for characteristics such as gender, language, and education, they found that age was the only factor that affected the ability to behave randomly. This ability peaked at age 25, on average, and declined from then on.”
So, next time you really don’t care about the outcome of a decision, just ask a 25 year old to decide for you.
From an evolutionary perspective, I do have to wonder how and why this came to be the case. Neuropsychosocial development isn’t a random occurrence, and I have to speculate that there is probably some underlying age related advantage to being able make seemingly “random” choices at that particular time. A cursory search of google yields nothing, but I wonder if there is also a correlated factor in reduced cognitive bias around that time.
Mid-twenties seems to be around when most people tend to really start to re-examine their previously held beliefs and identities, and might be able to take a more objective viewpoint and become open to new ideas. I can see there being a correlation between the ability to act seemingly randomly and the capacity for greater objectivity. That’s total speculation, and could be way off base. If anyone has any thoughts on this, leave a comment below, I’d love to hear them.