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Seminar: 4/11 - Barry Schwartz, ICBS/Glushko Fellow

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  

Swathmore College
"Leaky Rationality: How Research on Behavioral Decision Making Challenges Normative Standards of Rationality

For more than thirty years,  decision making research has documented that people violate various principles of rationality, some of which are so fundamental that theorists of rationality rarely bother to state them.  This talk will  argue that it is problematic to conclude that these "violations" typically represent departures from rationality. The very psychological processes that lead to "irrational" decisions (e.g. framing, mental accounting) continue to exert their influence when the results of the decisions are experienced, making it very difficult to judge them as irrational.  That is, psychological processes that affect decisions may be said also to "leak" into experience.  The implication of this fact is that formal principles of rationality do not provide a good enough normative standard against which to assess decision making.  Instead, what is needed is a substantive theory of rationality-one that takes subjective experience seriously, considers how particular decisions fit into a life as a whole, and considers the effects of decisions on others.