The Role of Culture and Meaning in Rational Choice
The Wason card selection and the Tversky & Kahneman frame anomaly are examined in the context of a probabilistic, constructivist biological model of decision-making. Rational choice requires that decision-makers understand the meaning of the choices they confront. In fact, the determination of meaning and the process of rational choice represent two sides the same coin. Further, perception, cognition and action are ill-posed problems. To solve these problems ‘missing data’ must be supplied by the brain. This data is acquired by both ontogenetic and phylogenetic processes. These evolutionary processes facilitate the determination of meaning and as a product of that process also facilitate the construction of rationality. Two interrelated brain systems involved in this construction process are examined: an emotional system that rapidly and non-consciously assigns reward expectancy values to objects in the environment and a sensory-motor system that participates in the discovery of more general information that facilitates environment/body interactions. Jointly, these systems help a naïve agent to find ‘meaning in an unlabeled world’ and to predict the outcomes of future interactions with that world by supplying ‘background’ information, i.e., by supplying the missing data necessary for rational choice. This ‘background’ represents the imprint of the statistical structure of the world on the brain and, as such, embodies the individual’s Bayesian priors. Lack of sufficient background capacities can result in systematic judgment errors and seemingly irrational decisions. Complex culture is a key aspect of the environment that facilitates the construction of rationality, in part, by becoming internalized as background. Culture facilitates the creation of complex social constructs that contribute to cultural evolution, reduce uncertainty, and increase rationality; however, cultural evolution can get ahead of itself—potentially leading to background failure and errors in judgment and choice. Finally, it is not simply complexity or lack of hands-on experience that lead to error: an additional component that might be called semantic opacity is necessary. Copyright Springer 2005
If 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.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 7 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (January)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.springer.com|
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/environmental/journal/10818/PS2|
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:jbioec:v:7:y:2005:i:2:p:129-155. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)or (Rebekah McClure)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.