Natural Rationality: Beyond Bounded and Ecological Rationality

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Information about Natural Rationality: Beyond Bounded and Ecological Rationality

Published on June 22, 2007

Author: benoithv

Source: slideshare.net

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Decision-making is usually a secondary topic in psychology, relegated to the last chapters of textbooks. Most of the time these chapters acknowledge the failure of the “homo economicus” model and propose to understand human irrationality as the product of heuristic and biases, which may be rational under certain environmental conditions. Psychology pictures decision-making as a deliberative task, studied by multiple-choice tests using the traditional paper and pen method. Psychological research on decision-making assumes that the subjects’ competence in probabilistic reasoning – as revealed by these tests – is a good description of their decision-making capacities. This conception takes for granted (1) that the process of reasoning about action is identical to the process of decision-making and (2) that psychology documents either human failures to comply with rational-choice standards or how mental mechanisms are ecologically rational. In this talk, I argue that decision neuroscience (“neuroeconomics”) may suggest another approach for the study and the nature of decision-making. Research in this field show that information processing in decision is affective, embodied and prosocial: Evolutionary older neural structures, such as the limbic system or dopaminergic neurons, are highly involved in subjective risk and certainty assessment; somatosensory information is integrated in prefrontal areas and helps evaluating choices; In games where players may adopt fair or unfair attitudes, the first ones tend to be more frequent and the second ones elicit emotionally negative reaction.
Moreover, I suggest (against bounded rationality) that these mechanisms achieve near-optimality in social decision-making and (against ecological rationality) that this optimality is not fitness-enhancing. Consequently, I argue that the study of decision-making should be construed as an investigation into “natural rationality” (the mechanisms by which cognitive agents make decisions) and that decision-making should be a central concern for psychology.

Natural Rationality: Beyond Bounded and Ecological Rationality Benoit Hardy-Vallée Department of Philosophy University of Toronto 1

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion ‘standard conception’ of decision-making problems descriptive conceptual normative vs. ‘natural rationality’ problems descriptive conceptual normative 2

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Reasoning and decision making are high-level cognitive skills - (Johnson-Laird & Shafir, 1993, p. 1) Decisions . . . are often reached by focusing on reasons that justify the selection of one option over another - (Shafir et al., 1993, p. 34) special edition of Cognition on decision-making (volume 49, issues 1-2, Pages 1-187 3

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Paper and pen method Symmetry between reasoning about action and deciding Folk-psychological 'Sense-Model-Plan-Act' picture 4

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Robotics: distributed architectures coordination of multiple modules Psychology: sensorimotor simulation affective processing confabulation 5

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion (…) a widely used text of graduate- level readings in cognitive psychology, (Sternberg & Wagner, 1999) devotes the ninth of eleven chapters to quot;Reasoning, Judgment, and Decision Making,quot; (...) A leading undergraduate cognitive psychology text (Goldstein, 2005) placed quot;Reasoning and Decision Makingquot; the last of twelve chapters. (...) in a leading behavioral psychology text (Mazur, 2002), choice is covered in the last of fourteen chapters, and is limited to a review of the literature on choice between concurrent reinforcement schedules and the capacity to defer gratification (Gintis, 2007, pp. 1-2) 6

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Psychology categorization, inference, perception, emotion, personality make no sense without DM capacity Biology decisions increase fitness natural selection preserves good decision-makers “Genes are the primary policy-makers; brains are the executives”. (Dawkins) “brains are ineluctably structured to make, on balance, fitness-enhancing decisions in the face of the various constellations of sensory inputs their bearers commonly experience” (Gintis, 2007, p. 3) 7

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Simplified account of Rationality P1: If humans are rational, they comply with Rational-Choice Theory P2: Humans do not comply with Rational-Choice Theory C: Humans are not rational 8

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Problems with P1 P1: If humans are rational, they comply with Rational-Choice Theory RCT can be demanding There is no one unique rational solutions in repeated games P2: Humans do not comply with Rational-Choice Theory Problems with P2 they fail to make linguistic inferences they reach market equilibriums in experimental games when we take non monetary good into account, subject's behavior make sense 9

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Ultimatum Game Proposer Responder $9/$1 $8/$2.... ... ...$1/$9 Accept/reject 10

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Ultimatum Game ‘unfair’ offers trigger moral disgust and cognitive conflict Sanfey, A. G., Rilling, J. K., Aronson, J. A., Nystrom, L. E., & Cohen, J. D. (2003).The neural basis of economic decision-making in the Ultimatum Game. Science, 300(5626), 1755-1758. 11

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Risk vs. ambiguity greater activation in response to risk than in response to ambiguity. reward computation greater activation in response to ambiguity than in response to risk. fear/vigileance “Affective forecasting” Hsu, M., Bhatt, M., Adolphs, R., Tranel, D., & Camerer, C. F. (2005). Neural systems responding to degrees of uncertainty in human decision-making. 12 Science, 310(5754), 1680-1683.

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Problems with conclusion C: Humans are not rational if we are not, who is ? why behavioral ecology is predictive when classical economics is not? A completely irrational species would have been eliminated by natural selection 13

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Bounded Rationality ‘cognitive illusions’ deviations “deviations of actual behavior from the normative model are too widespread to be ignored, too systematic to be dismissed as random error, and too fundamental to be accommodated by relaxing the normative system. (…) the normative and the descriptive cannot be reconciled” (Tversky & Kahneman, 1986, p. s272) Ecological Rationality fitness maximization optimality in Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation (EEA) “Ultimately, ecological rationality depends on decision making that furthers an organism's adaptive goals in the physical or social environment” (Gigerenzer & Todd, 1999, p. 364) 14

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Descriptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality The descriptive and normative studies of neuro- behavioral mechanisms of decision-making - between optimism and pessimism - no presupposition of fitness or cognitive illusions - not based on folkpsychology 15

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Descriptive Conceptual Normative [Regret forecasting] Counterfactual Utility [regrets] [Affective forecasting] [Regret /rejoicing] Predicted Utility Remembered Experienced Utility Utility [prediction error] Decision [Hedonic affect] Utility [Valuation] 16

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Descriptive Conceptual Normative Language 17

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Descriptive Conceptual Normative DM should be “the central organizing principle of psychology” (Gintis, 2007, p. 1). DM should not be studied like a separate topic (e.g. perception), an occasional activity (e.g. chess-playing) or a high-level competence (e.g. logical inference) Psychology should be the science of the mechanisms (normal and abnormal), development, individual and cultural variations, and neural implementation of decision-making in humans and animals. 18

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion Descriptive Conceptual Normative 2 ways to evaluate mechanisms Internal: coherence between decision, predicted, rembered, counterfactual utility External: efficiency and effectiveness of neural mechanisms 19

Introduction Standard Descritptive Conceptual Normative Natural Rationality Conclusion “creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die out before reproducing their kind” - (Quine, 1969, p. 126) disputable for inductions, much less for decisions 20

Thanks ! ben.hardy.vallee@utoronto.ca Homepage http://decisis.net   Natural Rationality Blog:  http://naturalrationality.blogspot.com 21

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