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Better Than Conscious? The Brain, the Psyche, Behavior, and Institutions

Author

Listed:
  • Christoph Engel

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Wolf Singer

    () (Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt/Main)

Abstract

The title of this chapter is deliberately provocative. Intuitively, many will be inclined to see conscious control of mental process as a good thing. Yet control comes at a high price. The consciously not directly controlled, automatic, parallel processing of information is not only much faster, it also handles much more information, and it does so in a qualitatively different manner. This different mental machinery is not adequate for all tasks. The human ability to consciously deliberate has evolved for good reason. But on many more tasks than one might think at first sight, intuitive decision-making, or at least an intuitive component in a more complex mental process, does indeed improve performance. This chapter presents the issue, offers concepts to understand it, discusses the effects in terms of problem solving capacity, contrasts norms for saying when this is a good thing, and points to scientific and real world audiences for this work.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Engel & Wolf Singer, 2007. "Better Than Conscious? The Brain, the Psyche, Behavior, and Institutions," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2007_24, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2007_24
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    File URL: http://www.coll.mpg.de/pdf_dat/2007_24online.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
    2. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Markus Pasche, 2008. "Zum Erklärungsgehalt der verhaltensorientierten Spieltheorie," Jena Research Papers in Business and Economics - Working and Discussion Papers (Expired!) 04/2008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, School of Economics and Business Administration.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process

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