Institutions for Intuitive Man
AbstractBy its critics, the rational choice model is routinely accused of being unrealistic. One key objection has it that, for all nontrivial problems, calculating the best response is cognitively way too taxing, given the severe cognitive limitations of the human mind. If one confines the analysis to consciously controlled decision-making, this criticism is certainly warranted. But it ignores a second mental apparatus. Unlike conscious deliberation, this apparatus does not work serially but in parallel. It handles huge amounts of information in almost no time. It only is not consciously accessible. Only the end result is propelled back to consciousness as an intuition. It is too early to decide whether the rational choice model is ultimately even descriptively correct. But at any rate institutional analysts and institutional designers are well advised to take this powerful mechanisms seriously. In appropriate contexts, institutions should see to it that decision-makers trust their intuitions. This frequently creates a dilemma. For better performance is often not the only goal pursued by institutional intervention. Accountability, predictability and regulability are also desired. Sometimes, clever interventions are able to get them both. Arguably, the obligation to write an explicit set of reasons for a court decision is a case in point. The judge is not obliged to report the mental processes by which she has taken her decision. Justification is only ex post control. Intuitive decision-making is even more desirable if the underlying social problem is excessively complex (NP hard, to be specific), or ill-defined. Sometimes, it is enough for society to give room for intuitive decision-making. For instance, in simple social dilemmas, a combination of cheater detection and punishing sentiments does the trick. However, intuition can be misled. For instance, punishing sentiments are triggered by a hurt sense of fairness. Now in more complex social dilemmas, there are competing fairness norms, and people intuitively choose with a self-serving bias. In such contexts, institutions must step in so that clashing intuitions do not lead to social unrest.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2007_12.
Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
intuition; consciousness; rational choice; heuristics; ill-defined social problems; institutions;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Institutional; Evolutionary
- C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
- D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
- D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, and Operations
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-12-15 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2007-12-15 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-LAW-2007-12-15 (Law & Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2007-12-15 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
- NEP-UPT-2007-12-15 (Utility Models & Prospect Theory)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 1992.
"Case-Based Decision Theory,"
994, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Cowan, Robin & David, Paul A & Foray, Dominique, 2000.
"The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness,"
Industrial and Corporate Change,
Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 211-53, June.
- Robin Cowan & Paul A. David & Dominique Foray, 1999. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Working Papers 99027, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
- Cowan,Robin & David,Paul & Foray,Dominique, 1999. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Research Memoranda 025, Maastricht : MERIT, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology.
- Christoph Engel, 2004. "Social Dilemmas, Revisited from a Heuristics Perspective," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2004_4, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
- Gerd Gigerenzer & Christoph Engel (ed.), 2006. "Heuristics and the Law," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262072750, June.
- Selten,Reinhard & Mitzkewitz,Michael & Uhlich,Gerald, .
"Duopoly strategies programmed by experienced players,"
Discussion Paper Serie B
106, University of Bonn, Germany.
- Reinhard Selten & Michael Mitzkewitz & Gerald R. Uhlich, 1997. "Duopoly Strategies Programmed by Experienced Players," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 517-556, May.
- Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1998. "Behavioral Foundations of Reciprocity: Experimental Economics and Evolutionary Psychology," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 335-52, July.
- Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000.
"Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
- Christoph Engel & Elke U. Weber, 2006.
"The Impact of Institutions on the Decision How to Decide,"
Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
2006_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
- Engel, Christoph & Weber, Elke U., 2007. "The impact of institutions on the decision how to decide," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 323-349, December.
- Engel, Christoph, 2008. "Learning the law," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(03), pages 275-297, December.
- Leamer, Edward E, 1983.
"Let's Take the Con Out of Econometrics,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 31-43, March.
- Christoph Engel, 2008. "Preponderance of the Evidence versus Intime Conviction. A Behavioural Perspective on a Conflict between American and Continental European Law," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2008_33, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
- Christoph Engel & Andreas Glöckner, 2008. "Can We Trust Intuitive Jurors? An Experimental Analysis," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2008_36, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Marc Martin).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.