[This is a follow up to an earlier post, where I said I was looking for a more comprehensive discussion regarding rationality. Conversation at that point focused on the relevance to “real life” of rationality research, as well as applicability, generality and conclusivity of research findings. This review addresses these subjects.]

Various arguments have been made disputing the accumulation of findings that show people systematically violating fundamental normative principles of reasoning, judgment, and decision. This review suggests that the violations cannot be dismissed as either random or trivial, nor can they be attributed to experimenters’ misinterpretation of answers that are actually appropriate to alternative, valid interpretations of the problems. The systematic and well-documented findings cannot be attributed to simple computational limitations, nor does it appear that inappropriate types of questions are being asked or inappropriate norms applied. The compelling nature of the rationality critique is having an ever greater impact on work in neighboring disciplines, most notably in the increasing popularity of behavioral economics (Rabin 1998, Sunstein 2000, Thaler 1992, 1993). It may eventually help alter the social sciences’ view of the human agent.



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