Praying for an Orange Couch

After reading Youssef Cohen’s Radicals, Reformers, and Reactionaries for my summer course, I was reminded of what we mean when we assume rationality in rational choice models. We assume rationality in decision making, that individuals will attempt to maximize their utility given their preferences and the constraints that exist. There are a few important components in rational choice models, however, that we do not make any assumptions and judgments about. First, in terms of preferences, we merely require that they are transitive. We do not judge their quality. If the actors prefer to buy a bright orange couch for their Continue reading Praying for an Orange Couch

The Unbearable Lightness of Game Theory? has a great post today assessing the merits of game theory.  The author makes some excellent points.  In particular, he points out that some of the more interesting outcomes we see in the social sciences are off-equilibrium–inherently, then, these are the ones that we can’t explain with game theory.  Additionally, and more generally as a criticism of rational choice, individuals don’t necessarily make decisions that conform to what we typically think of as the rules that describe rational actors. Check out the post at, and the preceding entry by the same blogger (Michael McBride) about game theory’s potentially Continue reading The Unbearable Lightness of Game Theory?

Are rational decisions produced by the conscious or subconscious mind?

Are people capable of making fully conscious decisions? Or does our subconscious play an unforeseen role in influencing our decisions? If our subconscious does play a role, can we still make rational decisions? The following documentary (referred to us by Geoff McGovern) deals with the "hidden motives" of the mind. It got me thinking about whether we can still claim people are making rational decisions even if we believed they were making those decisions subconsciously. More after the jump….