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Can Science Help Solve The Economic Crisis?

Can Science Help Solve The Economic Crisis? | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

Mike Brown, Stuart Kauffman, Zoe-Vonna Palmrose and Lee Smolin-

The main cause of the financial crisis is instability in the financial sector including the firms, institutions and markets which comprise it. To understand this instability, we have to begin with the legitimate primary purposes of the financial markets. One is to provide capital, as equity and debt, to the goods and services economy to allow it to thrive and grow. A second is to provide a stable repository for our collective savings. And a third is to responsibly provide appropriate credit to individuals. These legitimate functions have been hijacked by speculative behavior that was unchecked by regulatory structures. The consequences of this threaten to disrupt the productive efforts of millions of ordinary people who go to work every day to make stuff and provide services to one another.

In the decades leading to this crisis, the shift in our economic thinking from the long-term view on Main Street to short-term speculation and gratification on Wall Street have not only brought us to the brink of economic collapse, but have also compromised a sufficient flow of capital to important long-term initiatives—economic sustainability, renewal of infrastructure, abatement of climate change, and development of alternative energy sources—all important to a vibrant and sustainable economy.

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Weekend Reads for Finance Pros: Our Brains and "The Disease" of Busyness

Weekend Reads for Finance Pros: Our Brains and "The Disease" of Busyness | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

I don’t know about you, but I have a very hard time sitting still and just “being” instead of “doing.” My idea of “relaxing” usually involves something physical: running, swimming, cooking, spring cleaning, doing whatever, so long as I’m on the move. It takes a lot of discipline to just “be” instead of “do.” Which is why a passage from a recent post on the On Being blog, “The Disease of Being Busy,” really struck me.

Omid Safi, director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center, writes: “This disease of being ‘busy’ (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and well-being. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.” Stopping myself from being busy, in a sense, is about simplifying. As American author Henry D. Thoreau once said, “Our life is frittered away by detail . . . Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! . . .  Simplify, simplify.” I can’t help but wonder how much of my life I fritter away with my obsession with detail. Busyness, it seems, is how I try to manage detail. Here are some other interesting reads, in case you missed them:

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Music’s Amazing Effect on Long-Term Memory and Mental Abilities In General

Music’s Amazing Effect on Long-Term Memory and Mental Abilities In General | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
The fascinating effect of music on people’s cognitive abilities.

Professional musicians show superior long-term memory compared with non-musicians, a new study finds.

Their brains are also capable of much faster neural responses in key areas of the brain related to decision-making, memory and attention.

The results were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, DC (Schaeffer et al., 2014).

Professional musicians show superior long-term memory compared with non-musicians, a new study finds.
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Economic complexity: A different way to look at the economy

Economic complexity: A different way to look at the economy | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

By W. Brian Arthur; External Professor, Santa Fe Institute; Visiting Researcher, Palo Alto Research Center. 

Economics is a stately subject, one that has altered little since its modern foundations were laid in Victorian times. Now it is changing radically. Standard economics is suddenly being challenged by a number of new approaches: behavioral economics, neuroeconomics, new institutional economics. One of the new approaches came to life at the Santa Fe Institute: complexity economics.

Complexity economics got its start in 1987 when a now-famous conference of scientists and economists convened by physicist Philip Anderson and economist Kenneth Arrow met to discuss the economy as an evolving complex system. That conference gave birth a year later to the Institute’s first research program – the Economy as an Evolving Complex System – and I was asked to lead this. That program in turn has gone on to lay down a new and different way to look at the economy.

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Why Your Supermarket Sells Only 5 Kinds of Apples — Mother Jones — Medium

Why Your Supermarket Sells Only 5 Kinds of Apples — Mother Jones — Medium | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
And one man’s quest to bring hundreds more back. 

EVERY FALL AT MAINE’S COMMON GROUND Country Fair, the Lollapalooza of sustainable agriculture, John Bunker sets out a display of eccentric apples. Last September, once again, they covered every possible size, shape, and color in the wide world of appleness. There was a gnarled little yellow thing called a Westfield Seek-No-Further; a purplish plum impostor called a Black Oxford; a massive, red-streaked Wolf River; and one of Thomas Jefferson’s go-to fruits, the Esopus Spitzenburg. Bunker is known in Maine as “The Apple Whisperer,” or simply “The Apple Guy,” and, after laboring for years in semi-obscurity, he has never been in more demand. Through the catalog of Fedco Trees, a mail-order company he founded in Maine 30 years ago, Bunker has sown the seeds of a grassroots apple revolution.

All weekend long, I watched people gravitate to what Bunker (“Bunk” to his friends, a category that seems to include half the population of Maine) calls “the vibrational pull” of a table laden with bright apples. “Baldwin!” said a tiny old man with white hair and intermittent teeth, pointing to a brick-red apple that was one of America’s most important until the frigid winter of 1933-34 knocked it into obscurity. “That’s the best!”

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The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science — Mother Jones — Medium

The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science — Mother Jones — Medium | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link.

“A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger, in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology.

 
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Nudging : A Very Short Guide by Cass R. Sunstein

Nudging : A Very Short Guide by Cass R. Sunstein | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Abstract:      
This brief essay offers a general introduction to the idea of nudging, along with a list of ten of the most important “nudges.” It also provides a short discussion of the question whether to create some kind of separate “behavioral insights unit,” capable of conducting its own research, or instead to rely on existing institutions. #Nudging #neuroeconomics

 

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Computation: Information, adaptation, and evolution in silico — Foundations & Frontiers — Medium

Computation: Information, adaptation, and evolution in silico — Foundations & Frontiers — Medium | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
In 1984 the nascent Santa Fe Institute sponsored two workshops on “Emerging Syntheses in Science,” at which the Institute’s founders brainstormed their plans for the future. At the time I was a beginning graduate student in computer science and had never heard of SFI, but reading the workshop proceedings a few years later, I was very excited by the Institute’s goal to “pursue research on a large number of highly complex and interactive systems which can be properly studied only in an interdisciplinary environment.”

The founders planned to define particular themes or programs that would benefit from the kind of intensive cross-disciplinary interaction offered by the new institute. SFI’s first official program, formed in 1987, was Economics. Before long, several influential players in the field took note of SFI’s novel interdisciplinary approach to economics, and the program grew quickly, in fact threatening to take over the fledgling organization.

Founder and first SFI President George Cowan wanted to make sure economics did not come to dominate. He wrote: “We had to start somewhere, but we also had to make sure from the beginning that economics didn’t become the one interest of the institute…I pushed hard to support at least one other program that would be equal in size to the economics program. We needed to broaden our academic agenda, and spread our bets.” Cowan’s push was to start a program in “adaptive computation.”
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Emergence: A unifying theme for 21st century science — Foundations & Frontiers — Medium

Emergence: A unifying theme for 21st century science — Foundations & Frontiers — Medium | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
When electrons or atoms or individuals or societies interact with one another or their environment, the collective behavior of the whole is different from that of its parts. We call this resulting behavior emergent. Emergence thus refers to collective phenomena or behaviors in complex adaptive systems that are not present in their individual parts.

Examples of emergent behavior are everywhere around us, from birds flocking, fireflies synchronizing, ants colonizing, fish schooling, individuals self-organizing into neighborhoods in cities – all with no leaders or central control – to the Big Bang, the formation of galaxies and stars and planets, the evolution of life on earth from its origins until now, the folding of proteins, the assembly of cells, the crystallization of atoms in a liquid, the superconductivity of electrons in some metals, the changing global climate, or the development of consciousness in an infant.

Indeed, we live in an emergent universe in which it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify any existing interesting scientific problem or study any social or economic behavior that is not emergent.
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Superstition and financial decision making

Abstract: In Chinese culture, certain digits are lucky and others unlucky. We test how such numerological superstition affects financial decision in the China IPO market. We find that the frequency of lucky numerical stock listing codes exceeds what would be expected by chance. Also consistent with superstition effects, newly listed firms with lucky listing codes are initially traded at a premium after controlling for known determinants of valuation multiples, the lucky number premium dissipates within three years of the IPO, and lucky number firms experience inferior post-IPO abnormal returns.

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Japan Enters Recession: Should We Be Surprised?

Japan Enters Recession: Should We Be Surprised? | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
After declining 7.3% in Q2 2014, Japan’s GDP fell 1.6% in Q3 2014 — officially placing the country in recession. It seems Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Abenomics” strategy is failing. Should this really be a surprise?

Beginning in Q2 2014, Japan increased the national sales tax from 5% to 8% — pulling future demand into Q1 GDP ahead of the well-known tax hike, and harming Q2 GDP materially once it hit. The Q3 news also comes just weeks since the Bank of Japan (BOJ) announced a major acceleration of monetary stimulus to 15% of GDP. Clearly, the BOJ was worried about the Japanese economy. However, this isn’t Japan’s first trip to the rodeo. As highlighted in Bloomberg’s “Japan Unexpectedly Enters Recession as Abe Weighs Tax: Economy,” in 1997, then-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto hiked consumption taxes by 2%, pushing Japan into recession — causing Mr. Hashimoto to resign his post.
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U.S. Economy: The Disconnect between Reality and Perception

U.S. Economy: The Disconnect between Reality and Perception | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
American sentiment remains weak despite encouraging improvement in economic fundamentals. We think sluggish growth in wages plays a major part in keeping optimism at bay. 

By most measures, the U.S. economy is improving. Recent economic reports revealed two encouraging facts: The United States just experienced the best back-to-back quarters of growth since 2003 and fewer Americans are filing for unemployment benefits than at any time in the past 14 years.

Unfortunately, most Americans don’t seem to put much faith in the numbers, or as Gustave Flaubert famously remarked, “There is no truth. There is only perception.” Today, the perception of most Americans is very different than the optimistic view reflected in government statistics. According to the results of theBlackRock Global Investor Pulse Survey, only about one in four Americans believe that the U.S. economy and job market are getting better. Worse still, a full 75% of Americans believe that it is hard to keep up with bills and save for retirement. So, how do you explain the disconnect between an economy that appears to be shaking off its lethargy and the perception that the United States never fully recovered from the financial crisis?

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Social media can improve, muddy election campaigns

Social media can improve, muddy election campaigns | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

As the candidates for Pennsylvania governor debated for the final time last week in a television studio near Pittsburgh, their Twitter handles waged war online.

Neither Republican Gov. Tom Corbett nor Democratic challenger Tom Wolf send out their own tweets, relying instead on assistants to craft the messages. And that can make their social media accounts seem robotic at times, according to a computer application designed to unmask machines that pose as humans online.

“For a campaign, (they) have a staff of people; they use software; they try to release things at regular time intervals,” said Filippo Menczer, a computer science professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, who developed the “BotOrNot” app.

“They may be legitimate,” Menczer said, “but they still have some of these patterns that, according to our algorithm, are bot-like.”

Social media robots, or “socialbots,” have been programmed to block Twitter conversations, build consensus for otherwise unpopular opinions and attempt to alter human behavior.

 

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Amazon.com: Quantum Models of Cognition and Decision (9781107011991): Jerome R. Busemeyer, Peter D. Bruza: Books

Quantum Models of Cognition and Decision

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Much of our understanding of human thinking is based on probabilistic models. This innovative book by Jerome R. Busemeyer and Peter D. Bruza argues that, actually, the underlying mathematical structures from quantum theory provide a much better account of human thinking than traditional models. They introduce the foundations for modelling probabilistic-dynamic systems using two aspects of quantum theory. The first, 'contextuality', is a way to understand interference effects found with inferences and decisions under conditions of uncertainty. The second, 'quantum entanglement', allows cognitive phenomena to be modeled in non-reductionist ways. Employing these principles drawn from quantum theory allows us to view human cognition and decision in a totally new light. Introducing the basic principles in an easy-to-follow way, this book does not assume a physics background or a quantum brain and comes complete with a tutorial and fully worked-out applications in important areas of cognition and decision.
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Stirling Behavioural Science Blog : Summary of our fourth ESRC Workshop on Preferences and Personality (21/11/14)

Stirling Behavioural Science Blog : Summary of our fourth ESRC Workshop on Preferences and Personality (21/11/14) | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
hanks everybody for attending our fourth ESRC workshop on “Personality and Preferences” in Stirling on Friday November 21st. It was the fourth of our six workshops funded by the ESRC that are taking place in 2014/15. 

We had excellent presentations and interesting discussions with many new ideas emerging from the different economic and psychological perspectives on common topics. Some of the main talking points which arose were:
The importance of the subjective versus the objective.
Average effects versus individual heterogeneity.
The differences between the measurement of economic preference parameters in experimental settings versus the psychological measurement of traits using scales and how both approaches can complement each other.
The external and internal validity of various economic and psychological measures.
Different standards to evaluate the quality of measures in economics and psychology.
The use of personality psychology to explain individual differences in biased decision-making.
The importance of background variables (e.g. social context) on economic preferences.
The malleability of preferences. 
The question why incentivised experiments are considered best practice in economics.
The domain-specificity of preferences.
The psychometrics of economic preferences and economic games. 
The change of preferences and personality over the life course. 
Preference measures in children and adults.
The difference between averages in personality and the distribution of personality.
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Fear vs. Personality Type

Fear vs. Personality Type | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
There are many factors to fear. The most important one however (And widely unknown) is the shocking fact that our capacity to experience fear is directly correlated with our capacity to experience love. In other words, we can't suppress fear while still maintaining the ability to experience great love. Numbing one or ignoring one, equally affects the other.

Interestingly enough, there is some science behind it. It's long been known that oxytocin is the neurohypophysial hormone associated with love. For example, large amounts of oxytocin are released during and after child birth. Some say, to prevent the mother from harming the baby as a result of the agony of child birth. More recent studies are beginning to show that oxytocin also plays a large role in fear. This may explain why suppressing fears also reduces our ability to love and connect with others. 

The more of our authentic selves we suppress, the less fear AND love we are vulnerable to experience, suppression being the opposite of vulnerability.
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The Illusion of Confidence — Behavioral Economics

The Illusion of Confidence — Behavioral Economics | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
As told by Daniel Kahneman 

A friend recommend me the book Thinking, Fast and Slow when I asked him for a good read in the field of behavioral science — I am an entry level enthusiast. Half way thru it, everything has made sense to me till now, as has the concept of confidence/overconfidence as discussed by the author.

The less we know about something, say, a subject or incident, the more confident we feel about it. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s easy to fill a jigsaw puzzle if there are less pieces in it. The puzzle is complete or almost complete with just a few pieces.

We can form a coherent story if we have less data points. And as soon as we form a coherent story, we feel it’s true — which might or might not be the case. A coherent story is the key. We believe it and hence feel confident about it. Sometimes overconfident. And rightly said — it’s an illusion.

P.S. No takeaway from this post. Just a feeling of oh, that’s so right is all you get after reading it.

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We Can Code It! — Mother Jones — Medium

We Can Code It! — Mother Jones — Medium | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
In the winter of 2011, a handful of software engineers landed in Boston just ahead of a crippling snowstorm. They were there as part of Code for America, a program that places idealistic young coders and designers in city halls across the country for a year. They’d planned to spend it building a new website for Boston’s public schools, but within days of their arrival, the city all but shut down and the coders were stuck fielding calls in the city’s snow emergency center.

In such snowstorms, firefighters can waste precious minutes finding and digging out hydrants. A city employee told the CFA team that the planning department had a list of street addresses for Boston’s 13,000 hydrants. “We figured, ‘Surely someone on the block with a shovel would volunteer if they knew where to look,’” says Erik Michaels-Ober, one of the CFA coders. So they got out their laptops.
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The behavioral economics of international diplomacy

The behavioral economics of international diplomacy | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
The personal characteristics of diplomats influence what types of international agreements they prefer.

When America sends diplomats to international negotiations over big-ticket items like the new Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, does it matter who they send, or how those diplomats think about cooperation? Is it better if the people we put on the airplane to Geneva have certain character traits? Should they be patient or seek more immediate rewards?  Should our diplomats be good at chess — able to think many moves ahead — or altruistic?

International relations scholars have typically ignored the personal characteristics of diplomats in favor of explanations that highlight underlying interests and power relations between governments and economies.  These factors are obviously important, but our new study (with Brad LeVeck and James Fowler) in the journal International Organization finds that American diplomats vary dramatically on how they perceive the value of international cooperation and the best ways to achieve it. It’s their personalities and skills, not how an agreement is designed, that explain these differences.

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Stephen Cobb's curator insight, Today, 1:32 AM

Help with the IAL specification in Economics.

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The best navigation idea I’ve seen since the Tube map

The best navigation idea I’ve seen since the Tube map | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

Yet because cognitive fluency is intangible, its value is often under-rated. For instance, consider the effect of rebranding the London Overground as part of the Tube network. Much of the route existed for decades as the Silverlink train line. But since it did not appear on the Tube map, it was mentally invisible and so unused; ten years ago you felt a bit like Spencer Tracy stepping off the train in Bad Day at Black Rock. Now, as an orange route on the Tube map, it is insanely popular. The rebranding of the line may have contributed more than the new trains.

Last week I heard of another British idea which may be as important as Harry Beck’s in making navigation mentally easy: www.what3words.com divides the entire surface of the earth into 3m x 3m squares and identifies each with just three common words. So the middle of the Spectator garden is what3words.com/liked.foods.loudly — while the front door is take.notes.thus. There are about 60 trillion such combinations available.

 

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Do NYC cab drivers quit too early when it rains? - Decision Science News

Do NYC cab drivers quit too early when it rains? - Decision Science News | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Do cab drivers ignore opportunities to make more money when it rains?

ABSTRACT

In a seminal paper, Camerer, Babcock, Loewenstein, and Thaler (1997) find that the wage elasticity of daily hours of work New York City (NYC) taxi drivers is negative and conclude that their labor supply behavior is consistent with target earning (having reference dependent preferences). I replicate and extend the CBLT analysis using data from all trips taken in all taxi cabs in NYC for the five years from 2009-2013. The overall pattern in my data is clear: drivers tend to respond positively to unanticipated as well as anticipated increases in earnings opportunities. This is consistent with the neoclassical optimizing model of labor supply and does not support the reference dependent preferences model.

I explore heterogeneity across drivers in their labor supply elasticities and consider whether new drivers differ from more experienced drivers in their behavior. I find substantial heterogeneity across drivers in their elasticities, but the estimated elasticities are generally positive and only rarely substantially negative. I also find that new drivers with smaller elasticities are more likely to exit the industry while drivers who remain learn quickly to be better optimizers (have positive labor supply elasticities that grow with experience).

 
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Gerd Gigerenzer on Simple heuristics that make us smart.

Gigerenzer gives examples where we can use simple solutions to complex problems, in
particular where simple heuristic rules are indispensable for good decisions under uncertainty. It is not always better to have more information, time, or computation.
About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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Everything Is a Meme

Everything Is a Meme | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
n the years preceding the financial crisis of 2008, certain key phrases appeared over and again in the public discourse on investing.

One that stands out in my mind is that home prices in the United States haven’t declined nationally since the Great Depression. The phrase appeared in television commentary by pundits, statements by Federal Reserve officials, in analyst reports, and in private conversations with Wall Street analysts.

I discovered the phrase yet again when studying securities ranging from housing stocks like KB Home (KBH), to large international banks like Citigroup (C), to government-sponsored entities like Fannie Mae, to mortgage companies like Countrywide Financial, to insurer and major credit default swap underwriter AIG.
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Cognitive Bias Modification: Train Your Mind to See The Positive

Cognitive Bias Modification: Train Your Mind to See The Positive | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

Is your mind biased to see the positive or the negative in your environment?

A new form of self-therapy called cognitive bias modification attempts to train your mind to see the positive through a fun and interesting new technique.

In fact, a recent study has shown that cognitive bias modification (CBM) has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. And another study discovered that CBM can reduce the pain of social rejections.

The basic idea behind the exercise is to try to spot the “happy face” among a bunch of “sad faces.” With practice, your mind gradually starts attracting to the “happy faces” faster and more easily.

And the reason this works is because your mind becomes less sensitive to the negative stimuli in your environment and more sensitive to the positive stimuli in your environment.

Try “cognitive bias modification” out for yourself.

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Quantum Chaos and Quantum Computing Structures

A system of quantum computing structures is introduced and proven capable of making emerge, on average, the orbits of classical bounded nonlinear maps on \mathbb{C} through the iterative action of path-dependent quantum gates. The effects of emerging nonlinear dynamics and chaos upon the quantum averages of relevant observables and quantum probabilities are exemplified for a version of Chirikov's standard map on \mathbb{C} . Both the individual orbits and ensemble properties are addressed so that the Poincar\'e map for Chirikov's standard map, in the current quantum setting, is reinterpreted in terms of a quantum ensemble which is then formally introduced within the formalized system of quantum computing structures, in terms of quantum register machines, revealing three phases of quantum ensemble dynamics: the regular, the chaotic and an intermediate phase called complex quantum stochastic phase which shares similarities to the edge of chaos notion from classical cellular automata and classical random boolean networks' evolutionary computation.

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The Best Look for a Leader: Intelligent or Healthy? — PsyBlog

The Best Look for a Leader: Intelligent or Healthy? — PsyBlog | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
When choosing a leader, people prefer a healthy complexion, but mostly ignore the appearance of intelligence, a new study finds.

The findings are based on a Dutch-led study, which looked at the unconscious influence of facial appearance on which leaders people choose for different sorts of leadership (Spisak et al., 2014).

Facial traits can provide all sorts of information about someone’s personality.

For example, a more feminine face — in both men and women — is linked to greater ‘feminine’ qualities, like cooperation.

More masculine faces, however, suggest higher levels of risk-taking.
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