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On Apparent Irrational Behaviors : Interacting Structures and the Mind


  • Pierre Gosselin

    () (IF - Institut Fourier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UGA - Université Grenoble Alpes)

  • Aïleen Lotz

    () (Cerca Trova - Aucune)

  • Marc Wambst

    () (IRMA - Institut de Recherche Mathématique Avancée - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


We develop a general method to solve models of interactions between multiple and possibly strategic agents. Our model explains apparently irrational or biased behaviors in a person. We argue that these actions could result from several rational structures having different goals. Our main example is a model of three agents, "conscious", "unconscious", and "body". Our main result states that, for an agent whose unconscious and conscious goals differ, the unconscious may influence the conscious, either directly or indirectly, via a third agent, the body. This three-agent model describes behaviors such as craving, exces- sive smoking, or sleepiness, to delay or dismiss a task. One of the main result shows that the unconscious' strategic action crucially depends on whether the conscious' actions are complementary in time. When complementary, and if the conscious is not sensitive to un- conscious' messages, the unconscious may drive the conscious towards its goals by blurring physical needs. When not complementary, the unconscious may more easily reach his goal by influencing the conscious, be it directly or indirectly.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Gosselin & Aïleen Lotz & Marc Wambst, 2013. "On Apparent Irrational Behaviors : Interacting Structures and the Mind," Working Papers hal-00851309, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00851309
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David K. Levine & Drew Fudenberg, 2006. "A Dual-Self Model of Impulse Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1449-1476, December.
    2. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
    3. Lotz, Aïleen, 2011. "An Economic Approach to the Self : the Dual Agent," MPRA Paper 30043, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Don Ross, 2007. "Economic Theory and Cognitive Science: Microexplanation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262681684, January.
    5. Lotz, Aileen & Gosselin, Pierre, 2012. "A dynamic model of interactions between conscious and unconscious," MPRA Paper 36697, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Schelling, Thomas C, 1978. "Egonomics, or the Art of Self-Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 290-294, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Gosselin & Aïleen Lotz & Marc Wambst, 2015. "From Rationality to Irrationality : Dynamic Interacting Structures," Working Papers hal-01122078, HAL.
    2. Pierre Gosselin & Aïleen Lotz & Marc Wambst, 2017. "A Path Integral Approach to Interacting Economic Systems with Multiple Heterogeneous Agents," Working Papers hal-01549586, HAL.

    More about this item


    choices and preferences; multi-rationality; consis- tency; dual agent; conscious and unconscious; rationality; multi-agent model;

    JEL classification:

    • C02 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Mathematical Economics
    • C65 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Miscellaneous Mathematical Tools
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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