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Rule-governed behavior in evolution and human society

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  • Ronald Heiner

Abstract

I present a conceptual framework and analytical tools for generalizing existing theory in order to investigate imperfect choice that does not always make optimal decisions based on available information. The resulting analysis implies imperfect choice creates incentives forrule-governed behavior that is adapted only to recurrent situations (rather than adjusting optimally to all conditions), thereby producing a tendency to ignore relevant and even costlessly available information. These principles are applied to recent analysis on the foundations ofconstitutional economics. They are also applied to nonhuman evolution, and to human behavior within exchange environments in order to illustrate the pervasiveness of rule governed behavior, and to suggest a constitutional perspective about the importance of developing rules for governing peoples' ongoing economic and political decisions. I conclude by briefly discussing a basic tradeoff between reaching initial agreement over constitutional rules and the stability of future compliance to them once they are put into practical application. Copyright George Mason University 1990

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald Heiner, 1990. "Rule-governed behavior in evolution and human society," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:1:y:1990:i:1:p:19-46 DOI: 10.1007/BF02393032
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Heiner, Ronald A, 1985. "Origin of Predictable Behavior: Further Modeling and Applications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 391-396, May.
    2. Williams, Arlington W, 1987. "The Formation of Price Forecasts in Experimental Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 19(1), pages 1-18, February.
    3. Kaen, Fred R & Rosenman, Robert E, 1986. "Predictable Behavior in Financial Markets: Some Evidence in Support ofHeiner's Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 212-220, March.
    4. Heiner, Ronald A., 1988. "The necessity of imperfect decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 29-55, July.
    5. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
    6. Slovic, Paul & Lichtenstein, Sarah, 1983. "Preference Reversals: A Broader Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 596-605, September.
    7. Levy, David, 1988. "Utility-Enhancing Consumption Constraints," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 69-88, April.
    8. Langlois,Richard, 1989. "Economics as a Process," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521378598, March.
    9. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1986. "Rationality of Self and Others in an Economic System," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 385-399, October.
    10. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 251-278, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roland Kirstein, "undated". "The Condorcet Jury-Theorem with Two Independent Error-Probabilities," German Working Papers in Law and Economics 2006-1-1154, Berkeley Electronic Press.
    2. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2013. "The Weak Rationality Principle in Economics," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 149(I), pages 1-26, March.
    3. Kirstein, Roland, 2003. "Imperfect Monitoring of Monitoring Agents: One Reason Why Hierarchies Can Be Superior to "Lean" Organizations," CSLE Discussion Paper Series 2003-07, Saarland University, CSLE - Center for the Study of Law and Economics.
    4. Beckmann, Klaus, 2007. "Jon Elster und das Zeitinkonsistenz-Problem," Discussion Papers 2007-21, Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Chair of Economic Ethics.
    5. repec:oup:jcomle:v:2:y:2006:i:2:p:215-244. is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Koboldt, Christian, 1995. "Rational Samaritans, Strategic Moves, and Rule-Governed Behavior: Some Remarks on James Buchanan's "Samaritan's Dilemma"," CSLE Discussion Paper Series 95-02, Saarland University, CSLE - Center for the Study of Law and Economics.
    7. Arndt Christiansen and Wolfgang Kerber & Wolfgang Kerber, 2006. "Competition Policy with Optimally Differentiated Rules Instead of "Per se Rules vs. Rule of Reason"," Marburg Working Papers on Economics 200606, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    8. Vanberg, Viktor J., 2007. "Rational choice, preferences over actions and rule-following behavior," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 07/6, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    9. M. Laura Frigotto & Marco Zamarian, 2013. "Resilience and specialization in volatile environments:evidence from the Italian Air Force Tornado crews learning practices," DEM Discussion Papers 2013/17, Department of Economics and Management.

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