Event Detail

Thu Feb 11, 2010
234 Moses Hall (Dennes Room), 10:40 AM–12:30 PM
Working Group in the Philosophy of Mind
Daniel Oppenheimer (Princeton University)
Aggregation as a principle for understanding human decision making strategies. Or: Is “the individual” the right level of analysis?

Psychologists and Behavioral Economists have spent the past 30 years documenting that individuals often violate normative standards for behavior and decision making. In this talk, I explore the notion that considering the individual as the unit of analysis may not provide a complete picture. I begin by discussing how the aggregated preferences of individually rational agents can be irrational (c.f Arrow’s Theorem) and show how a number of the anomales observed in individuals can be explained as an emergent property of the aggregation of preferences of neurons/neural systems. I then explore how the aggregated irrational preferences of individuals can lead to improved/rational group decision making and outcomes. I conclude by discussing the implications of levels of analysis and aggregation for the development of normative standards.