Bounded Rationality and Beyond
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News on the effects of bounded rationality in economics and business, relationships and politics
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Camerer, Colin, La Neuroeconomia

Nel XX secolo la teoria economica è stata al centro di intensi dibattiti che ne hanno prodotto una significativa evoluzione. La radicalità dello scontro è stata tale da mettere in discussione la natura stessa dell’economia, arrivando oggi a sviluppi teorici ed empirici sostanzialmente inattesi. Per ripercorrere brevemente le fasi di questo percorso è opportuno iniziare da quando, alla vigilia della seconda guerra mondiale, diversi economisti europei (come Oskar Morgenstern o John von Neumann) emigrarono negli Stati Uniti. Questi studiosi lasciarono in Europa un terreno di discussione ampio e variegato, anche geograficamente, che tuttavia andò perdendo di rilevanza proprio in favore delle nuove scuole anglosassoni. Si formò un approccio unitario e spesso autoreferenziale allo studio economico: l’economia si costituì come una disciplina matematica in cui la maggior parte degli sforzi degli studiosi consisteva nella costruzione di assiomi che definissero con precisione le regole di comportamento degli agenti economici. Una tale impostazione, insieme ad una specifica assunzione comportamentale, fondò in sostanza la visione predominante del secolo, nota come Teoria della scelta razionale (TSR).

Già la nascita dell’economia sperimentale, avvenuta intorno agli anni ’50, aveva indebolito l’approccio tipico della TSR. Gli agenti impegnati negli esperimenti di laboratorio avevano mostrato di deviare dall’assunzione di razionalità con frequenze che risultavano pericolose per la stabilità del sistema. Poco dopo, l’avvento delle scienze cognitive, un approccio interdisciplinare (cui partecipano la linguistica, la filosofia della mente e del linguaggio, la psicologia cognitiva, le neuroscienze, l’intelligenza artificiale e, a partire dagli anni ’70, l’economia cognitiva) che pone l’accento sullo studio della mente in relazione al comportamento, aveva iniziato a mostrare agli economisti la possibilità di integrare il loro corpus di conoscenze con quello di studiosi di discipline come la psicologia cognitiva o le neuroscienze. Un convinto assertore dell’utilità della collaborazione tra l’economia e le due discipline menzionate è proprio Colin Camerer, autore, con George Loewenstein e Drazen Prelec, dell’articolo “Neuroeconomics: How Neuroscience Can Inform Economics” (2005). Nel 2008 Il Sole 24 ore ha riunito “Neuroeconomics” (già apparso in traduzione italiana presso la rivista Sistemi Intelligenti) e il più recente articolo “The Case for Mindful Economics” (2007), a firma del solo Camerer, in un’unica pubblicazione intitolata La Neuroeconomia, offrendo a un più vasto pubblico italiano un pezzo importante del dibattito internazionale sull’economia e sulle scienze cognitive. I due articoli, che nella sostanza possono essere considerati perfettamente uniformi essendo il secondo in qualche misura un aggiornamento del primo, argomentano in favore di un’impostazione mindful (in quanto opposta a quella mindless, adottata da Gul e Pesendorfer nel 2005) allo studio economico, e cioè di una sua apertura verso metodi e concetti di orientamento specificamente neuroscientifico.


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Prime Decision – Employee Loyalty and the Code of Silence

Prime Decision – Employee Loyalty and the Code of Silence | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

Researchers conducted a series of studies to examine what made people become whistle-blowers. They asked a group of people to write a paragraph about a time when they had witnessed unethical behaviour and reported it. They got another group to write about an occasion when they had witnessed unethical behaviour and kept silent. Both groups had to explain why.

They found that the whistle-blowers used ten times more words related to fairness and justice, than non-whistle-blowers, who used twice as many terms related to loyalty. The evidence suggests that loyalty impulses may conflict with reporting bad behaviour.

How can this finding impact employee behaviour?

The researchers suggested that if we want to encourage people to share their concerns, be it about anything from theft, fraud to sexual abuse, we should emphasise the concept of fairness in our communications. Within an organisation, this could be anything from mission statements, codes of ethics, job profiles or marketing communications. You could also nudge those who highly regard employee loyalty to come forward by re-framing whistle-blowing in terms of the greater good.

 
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Scott Adams' Secret of Success: Failure

Scott Adams' Secret of Success: Failure | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

If you're already as successful as you want to be, both personally and professionally, congratulations! Here's the not-so-good news: All you are likely to get from this article is a semientertaining tale about a guy who failed his way to success. But you might also notice some familiar patterns in my story that will give you confirmation (or confirmation bias) that your own success wasn't entirely luck.

If you're just starting your journey toward success—however you define it—or you're wondering what you've been doing wrong until now, you might find some novel ideas here. Maybe the combination of what you know plus what I think I know will be enough to keep you out of the wood chipper.

Let me start with some tips on what not to do. Beware of advice about successful people and their methods. For starters, no two situations are alike. Your dreams of creating a dry-cleaning empire won't be helped by knowing that Thomas Edison liked to take naps. Secondly, biographers never have access to the internal thoughts of successful people. If a biographer says Henry Ford invented the assembly line to impress women, that's probably a guess.

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"Let's shame them!": part and parcel of the dangerous seat-of-the-pants, evidence-free style of risk communication we are using to protect univ...

"Let's shame them!": part and parcel of the dangerous seat-of-the-pants, evidence-free style of risk communication we are using to protect univ... | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

A thoughtful correspondent asked me what I thought of proposals to "shame" parents who don't vaccinate their children.  I'm against doing that. Actually, I'm not opposed to "shaming" when it makes sense; but I am opposed to doing anything in public policy that disregards the best evidence we have on the challenges we face and the best strategies for combatting them. Here is what I had to say about why shaming parents who don't vaccinate should be viewed as falling into that category:

I myself don't see any value in shaming here.

The conflict-entrepreneur, anti-vax organizers deserve ridicule and are awful people etc. But denouncing orshaming them actually only gives them exactly what they want -- more attention, which in turn does make more members of the public agitated and confused. 

 
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Cognitive vs. behavioral in psychology, economics, and political science - Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

I’ve been coming across these issues from several different directions lately, and I wanted to get the basic idea down without killing myself in the writing of it. So consider this a sketchy first draft.

The starting point is “behavioral economics,” also known as the “heuristics and biases” subfield of cognitive psychology. It’s associated with various studies of cognitive illusions, settings where people systematically mispredict uncertain events or make decisions. Within psychology, this work is generally accepted but with some controversy which could be summed up in the phrase, “Kahneman versus Gigerenzer,” but it’s my impression that in recent years there’s been a bit of a convergence: for Kahneman the glass is half-empty and for Gigerenzer the glass is half-full, but whether you’re talking about “heuristics and biases” or “fast and frugal decision making,” there’s been a focus on understanding how our brains use contextual cues to decide how to solve a problem.

In economics, this work is more disputed because it seems to be in head-on conflict with models of utility-maximizing rationality from the 1930s-50s associated with the theories of Neumann and others on economic decision making. While some economists have embraced so-called “behavioral” ideas to explain imperfect markets, other economists are (a) skeptical about the relevance to real-world high-stakes behavior of laboratory findings on cognitive illusions and (b) wary of the political implications of social engineers who want to use cognitive biases to “nudge” people toward behavior they otherwise wouldn’t have done.

Within economics, I’d say that the behavioral/classical debate roughly follows left/right lines: on the left are the behaviorists who say that individuals and firms are irrational and thus we should not trust the judgment of the markets, instead we should regulate and protect people from their irrationality. On the right are the classicists who hold that people are rational when it comes to real economic decisions and thus any interference in the market, whether from governments or labor unions, will tend to make things worse.

 
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Sul'incompletezza del paradigma socio-economico neoclassico e su un'introduzione alla bioeconomia come frontiera unificante del pensiero scientifico-etico

Sul'incompletezza del paradigma socio-economico neoclassico e su un'introduzione alla bioeconomia come frontiera unificante del pensiero scientifico-etico | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Gli ultimi eredi del paradigma epistemologico Newtoniano meccanicista-deterministico, dettato dalla consapevolezza di poter descrivere con misure di oggettività non criticabile le leggi fisiche(dunque il mondo, tale è il tema criticato in questo scritto e non la validità del formalismo nella scienza fisica) tramite il formalismo matematico, sono stati gli “scienziati” economici neoclassici.
Il neoclassicismo si sviluppa intorno alla fine dell’800 e rivendica un approccio deduttivo-aprioristico che presumeva di poter descrivere il funzionamento del sistema economico meramente tramite l’uso di leggi epistematiche che offrivano astrazioni matematiche creatrici di “verità economiche” per compiersi nella “meccanica dell’utilità e dell’interesse individuale”(Javons).
L’individuazione di “teorie precarie” nel paradigma meccanistico-neoclassico si ha nell’osservare le formulazioni teoriche di tali economisti, i quali lavoravano e studiavano il sistema economico in configurazione di una concorrenza perfetta, ovvero un sistema deduttivo-matematico che presupponeva la razionalità dei consumatori come postulato(homo oeconomicus) e la libertà di informazione sociale(trasparenza) senza concorrenza sleale. Come si ben notare, qualsiasi occhio critico e di prospettiva realista si accorge che è impraticabile un’assunzione del sistema economico in questi termini, infatti il concetto di razionalità è ben discusso e ambiguo ed allo stesso tempo è ben constatato che la scienza economica dell’informazione consideri come uno dei fenomeni fondamentali del mercato odierno, l’asimmetria informativa, ovvero un conflitto di interessi che si sposta sul piano informativo-comunicativo dove una parte di popolazione detiene maggior informazioni socio-economiche per poter agire nel proprio interesse utilitaristico-individuale; un esempio chiaro:
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big data challenge of the human brain

big data challenge of the human brain | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

In order to address the big data challenge of the human brain, researchers at the SPECS lab lead by Paul Verschure, have recently developed BrainX3, a platform for visualization, simulation, analysis and interaction of large data, that combines computational power with human intuition in representing and interacting with large complex networks. BrainX3 serves as a hypotheses generator of big data. As is often the case with complex data, one might not always have a specific hypothesis to start with. Instead, discovering meaningful patterns and associations in big data might be a necessary incubation step for formulating well-defined hypotheses.

On this platform, the researchers reconstructed a large-scale simulation of human brain activity in a 3D virtual reality environment. Using the brain’s known connectivity along with detailed biophysics, the researchers reconstruct neuronal activity of the entire cortex in the resting-state. Users can interact with BrainX3 in real-time by perturbing brain regions with transient stimulations to observe reverberating network activity, simulate lesion dynamics or implement network analysis functions from a library of graph theoretic measures. Within the immersive mixed/virtual reality space of BrainX3 users can explore and analysis dynamical activity patterns of brain networks, both at rest or during task, or for discovering of signaling pathways associated to brain function and/or dysfunction or as a tool for virtual neurosurgery.

 
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Factors influencing the purchase and consumers’ willingness to pay for ground bison

Abstract: A consumer preference study that included willingness to pay and consumer sensory experiments was conducted for ground bison versus ground beef. A total of 82 subjects completed the study. The initial statistical analysis suggest that there is consistent consumer behavior with respect to consumer preference and frequency of consumption within species consumption options, but consistent consumer behavior appears to weaken when across species consumption preferences is compared to across species frequency of consumption patterns. 
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Brain-injury data used to map intelligence in the brain

A new study found that specific structures, primarily on the left side of the brain, are vital to general intelligence and executive function (the ability to regulate and control behavior). Brain regions that are associated with general intelligence and executive function are shown in color, with red indicating common areas, orange indicating regions specific to general intelligence, and yellow indicating areas specific to executive function.

April 10, 2012
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Scientists report that they have mapped the physical architecture of intelligence in the brain. This is one of the largest and most comprehensive analyses so far of the brain structures vital to general intelligence and to specific aspects of intellectual functioning, such as verbal comprehension and working memory.


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This is Your Brain on Twitter

This is Your Brain on Twitter | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
To demonstrate the power of tweets, Twitter’s ad researchers turned to neuroscience. Here’s what happened.

Twitter’s senior director of market research, Jeffrey Graham is always looking for ways to show the effectiveness of ad campaigns on Twitter — surveys, home visits, data models.

One of the more interesting studies involved two groups of people watching the NCAA basketball tournament on television. One group was permitted to bring their phones and tweet all they wanted. The other had to leave their phones outside and somehow manage without a second screen. Both groups had sweat monitors on their wrists and foreheads, a pulse rate monitor, and eye tracking goggles, to track how engaged they were. In comparison with the no-device crowd, the metrics went wild for the group permitted to tweet. “For people able to do Twitter and TV at the same time, there was a huge lift versus people who were just watching TV,” says Twitter’s global president of revenue and partnerships, Adam Bain.

 
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Understanding the Beer Game

Understanding the Beer Game | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

The Beer Game illustrates how difficult it is to manage dynamic systems. It was originally developed in the late 1950 s by Jay Forrester at MIT to introduce the concepts of dynamical systems. This blog post investigates the effect of different playing strategies.


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Researchers use games to evolve AI brains | Games | Geek.com

Researchers use games to evolve AI brains | Games | Geek.com | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

The current complexity of the human brain is impressive enough on its own, but to imagine that humanity’s defining organ reached this peak through generations of evolution is even more mind-boggling. Neuroscientists are learning more about the brain all the time through new kinds of research, and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, researchers are studying how neural networks evolve by teaching computers to play video games.

The team describes how they created simple systems called “animats” and observed how the systems changed across generations in the paper “Evolution of Integrated Causal Structures Animats Exposed to Environments of Increasing Complexity.” Using a process not unlike natural evolution, the researcher team studied how the AI grew more complex in the hopes that the data could better our understanding of our brains’ complexity.

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On the Incompleteness of Science

On the Incompleteness of Science | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

By now we know that empirical research can be more effective than scientific research when studying the social sciences, but what can we do when the problem we are trying to address is too large and complex, and how can we make sure that our assumptions always map to physical reality?

In an earlier article, I wrote about physical reality as the reification of an abstract concept. I did not mean that physical reality itself is abstract. I was giving an illustration of physical reality as a concept that would be assumed in science in order to avoid ontological discourses and make progress (hidden complexity on the firm grounds of generally accepted human beliefs).

Science requires the assumption of basic premises, in order to conduct rational inquiry. In propositional logic, we can think of these premises as facts, truth statements, or axioms that can be inserted into a rulebase, to then have a reproducible, axiomatic set of truths for reasoning. The elements in this axiomatic set depend on the inquiry being undertaken.

Scientific theories are necessarily incomplete if we accept imperfect cognition as a premise. We must assume that human cognition is imperfect; otherwise, the underlying truths that make up the entirety of our knowledge would be intolerably paradoxical and subject to reasoning dilemmas, such as infinite regress.Therefore, by modus ponendo ponens, scientific theories are incomplete.


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"Big Data is the fuel that will power human development in the future"

"Big Data is the fuel that will power human development in the future" | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

Only five years ago the term ‘Big Data’ was confined to obscure tech blogs and IBM research papers. But today ‘Big Data’ is part of mainstream journalistic parlance, as a Google search for [“big data” site:nytimes.com] will quickly reveal.

So it seems that everyone understands what ‘Big Data’ means. Here’s how Wikipedia defines the term:

“Big Data is a broad term for data sets so large or complex that they are difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. Challenges include analysis, capture, curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, and information privacy.”

While this definition is technically correct, for me it fails to convey why Big Data is important.

In this article I’ll take a shot at explaining why Big Data is not just ‘important’ but that it is literally the fuel that will power the next phase of humanity’s development.

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Synermetric's comment, February 20, 2015 9:43 AM
Ruth looks into how we can use Big Data in uncovering correlations and patterns with Human Analytics. We agree with your engaging article in that Big Data is becoming an essential in the development of both business and humanity. Happy to engage at Synermetric
Alexandru GROSU's curator insight, February 20, 2015 10:55 AM

Today, we only see the seeds. Tomorrow, we will see the roots. I'm afraid the forseeable future will be shadowed by the Big Data forest.

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Neuroscientists Improve Cognition in Brains Riddled With Alzheimer’s Toxins — PsyBlog

Neuroscientists Improve Cognition in Brains Riddled With Alzheimer’s Toxins — PsyBlog | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Potential new treatment for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. 

A life-extending protein called ‘klotho’ can increase learning and memory and ward off Alzheimer’s a new study reports.

Scientists at the University of California and the Gladstone Institutes have found that increasing the levels of klotho boosted learning and cognition in mice with Alzheimer’s toxins in their brains.

Klotho is an enzyme that naturally occurs in humans which is thought to be involved in the ageing process.

It takes its name from the entity in Greek mythology called ‘Clotho’, who was one of the ‘fates’ who were supposed to control the thread of people’s lives.

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Rajiv Sethi: The Agent-Based Method

Rajiv Sethi: The Agent-Based Method | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
It's nice to see some attention being paid to agent-based computational models on economics blogs, but Chris House has managed to misrepresent the methodology so completely that his post is likely to do more harm than good.  In comparing the agent-based method to the more standard dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) approach, House begins as follows:
Probably the most important distinguishing feature is that, in an ABM, the interactions are governed by rules of behavior that the modeler simply encodes directly into the system individuals who populate the environment.
So far so good, although I would not have used the qualifier "simply", since encoded rules can be highly complex. For instance, an ABM that seeks to describe the trading process in an asset market may have multiple participant types (liquidity, information, and high-frequency traders for instance) and some of these may be using extremely sophisticated strategies. How does this approach compare with DSGE models? House argues that the key difference lies in assumptions about rationality and self-interest:
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How to get a no-nonsense weather forecast - Decision Science News

How to get a no-nonsense weather forecast - Decision Science News | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
How to get your own no-nonsense local weather forecast graph for people who understand graphs and probability.

People ask us, “You folks at Decision Science News,here do you get your US weather forecasts?”

Because we like graphs and probabilities, we go to a page the US National Weather Service puts out that tells us just what we want to know. It tells us, for every hour in the next few days, the predicted temperature, the chance of precipitation, the predicted amount of rain, the predicted amount of snow and that’s it.

 
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Stirling Behavioural Science Blog : Reference bias in self-reported personality measures

Stirling Behavioural Science Blog : Reference bias in self-reported personality measures | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Reference bias in self-reported personality measuresPosted by Mark Egan at Saturday, February 14, 2015From p18 of Heckman & Kautz (2013). Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions that Improve Character and Cognition. NBER Working Paper:

"Answers from self-reports can be misleading when comparing levels of personality skills across different groups of people. Most personality assessments do not anchor their measurements in any objective outcome. For example, the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) survey asks respondents to rate themselves on the following statement:"I see myself as someone who tends to be lazy". The scale ranges from 1 = "strongly disagree" to 7 = "strongly agree." In answering this question, people must interpret the definition of "lazy," which likely involves comparing themselves to other people. If different groups have different standards or reference points, comparing traits across groups can be highly misleading. Laziness may mean different things to different groups of people.

Schmitt, Allik, McCrae, and Benet-Mart nez (2007) administer a Big Five personality questionnaire to groups of people in a variety of different countries. Using their estimates, [the below figure] shows how OECD countries rank in Conscientiousness from high to low. The bars display the average number of hours that people work in the country. The results are surprising. South Korea ranks second to last in terms of Conscientiousness but also ranks first in the number of hours worked. South Korea is not an anomaly. Country-level reports of Big Five Conscientiousness are unrelated to the number of hours worked."
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Psychologists Have Uncovered a Troubling Feature of People Who Seem Nice All the Time

Psychologists Have Uncovered a Troubling Feature of People Who Seem Nice All the Time | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Being affable and pleasant can come with some serious drawbacks.

In 1961, curious about a person's willingness to obey an authority figure, social psychologist Stanley Milgram began trials on his now-famous experiment. In it, he tested how far a subject would go electrically shocking a stranger (actually an actor faking the pain) simply because they were following orders. Some subjects, Milgram found, would follow directives until the person was dead.

The news: A new Milgram-like experiment published this month in the Journal of Personality has taken this idea to the next step by trying to understand which kinds of people are more or less willing to obey these kinds of orders. What researchers discovered was surprising: Those who are described as "agreeable, conscientious personalities" are more likely to follow orders and deliver electric shocks that they believe can harm innocent people, while "more contrarian, less agreeable personalities" are more likely to refuse to hurt others.

 
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Nudging parental health behavior with and without children's pestering power: fat tax, subsidy or both?

Abstract: We study the effect of several food fiscal policies as a way of nudging consumers towards a healthier way of eating. Our experimental design varies prices of healthier and unhealthier alternatives of food products for children. We also examine the interplay of children’s pestering power. Results from our lab experiment suggest that (a) implementing a fat tax and a subsidy simultaneously can nudge parents to choose healthier products, (b) providing information regarding the fiscal policies in place can further increase the impact of the intervention, and (c) kid’s pestering power is one of the causes of the policies’ moderate effectiveness.

 
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Digit ratio and risk taking: Evidence from a large, multi-ethnic sample

Abstract: Using a large (n=543) multi-ethnic sample of laboratory subjects, we systematically investigate the link between the digit ratio (the ratio of the length of the index finger to the length of the ring finger, also called 2D:4D ratio) and two measures of individual risk taking: (i) risk preferences over lotteries with real monetary incentives and (ii) self-reported risk attitude. Previous studies have found that the digit ratio, a proxy for pre-natal testosterone exposure, correlates with risk taking in some subject samples, but not others. In our sample, we find, first, that the right-hand digit ratio is significantly associated with risk preferences: subjects with lower right-hand ratios tend to choose more risky lotteries. Second, the right-hand digit ratio is not associated with self-reported risk attitudes. Third, there is no statistically significant association between the left-hand digit ratio and either measure of individual risk taking.
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Branding insights: an interdisciplinary journey from perception to action

Abstract: Our interdisciplinary study examines the brand's perceived intentions and ability, as predictors of consumer behavior. In an attempt of answering a call for research in the branding area, we found out contradictory views, both of them based on strong arguments, including empirical results. Each view has been examined by the lens of branding, social cognition and behavioral theory. We found convergent findings from cognitive psychology and behavioral theory to support one of the two views and to extract a hypothesis. Thus, we hypothesized that an effective branding process, meant to achieve both consumer trust and sales objectives, should address the brand's perceived intentions before ability. We suggest that further empirical studies are needed to test the hypothesis, although for some particular cases, tests confirmed the priority of intentions. Overall, our paper offers an integrative view of consumer underlying behaviors revealed by results of other social sciences and how should be used in brand construction process. The benefits of updating branding theories by integrating results confirmed by other social sciences are discussed.

 
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Humans are wired for prejudice, research shows — but they don’t have to be

Humans are wired for prejudice, research shows — but they don’t have to be | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Humans are highly social creatures. Our brains have evolved to allow us to survive and thrive in complex social environments.

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The Critical Few

The Critical Few | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it

To maintain stability yet retain the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, social systems must strike a balance between the maintenance of a shared reality and the survival of minority opinion. A computational model is presented that investigates the interplay of two basic, oppositional social processes—conformity and anticonformity—in promoting the emergence of this balance. Computer simulations employing a cellular automata platform tested hypotheses concerning the survival of minority opinion and the maintenance of system stability for different proportions of anticonformity. Results revealed that a relatively small proportion of anticonformists facilitated the survival of a minority opinion held by a larger number of conformists who would otherwise succumb to pressures for social consensus. Beyond a critical threshold, however, increased proportions of anticonformists undermined social stability. Understanding the adaptive benefits of balanced oppositional forces has implications for optimal functioning in psychological and social processes in general.

 

The Critical Few: Anticonformists at the Crossroads of Minority Opinion Survival and Collapse
by Matthew Jarman, Andrzej Nowak, Wojciech Borkowski, David Serfass, Alexander Wong and Robin Vallacher
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/18/1/6.html


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Evolution of Integrated Causal Structures in Animats Exposed to Environments of Increasing Complexity

Evolution of Integrated Causal Structures in Animats Exposed to Environments of Increasing Complexity | Bounded Rationality and Beyond | Scoop.it
Natural selection favors the evolution of brains that can capture fitness-relevant features of the environment's causal structure. We investigated the evolution of small, adaptive logic-gate networks (“animats”) in task environments where falling blocks of different sizes have to be caught or avoided in a ‘Tetris-like’ game. Solving these tasks requires the integration of sensor inputs and memory. Evolved networks were evaluated using measures of information integration, including the number of evolved concepts and the total amount of integrated conceptual information. The results show that, over the course of the animats' adaptation, i) the number of concepts grows; ii) integrated conceptual information increases; iii) this increase depends on the complexity of the environment, especially on the requirement for sequential memory. These results suggest that the need to capture the causal structure of a rich environment, given limited sensors and internal mechanisms, is an important driving force for organisms to develop highly integrated networks (“brains”) with many concepts, leading to an increase in their internal complexity.

Via Ashish Umre, Jocelyn Stoller
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