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Economic irrationality is optimal during noisy decision-making

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Humans violate rational choice theory systematically but why the do so remains unclear. I will present a mechanistic model, dubbed selective integration, according to which economic irrationality stems from an early bottleneck that dampens the gain of processing of weaker inputs. This bottleneck, asides from leading to violations of rationality, can nullify the influence of late noise arising beyond the sensory stage. I will present empirical results confirming this ameliorative role of selective integration. These results suggest that economic irrationality does not reflect the limits of human information processing (as it has been widely argued) but is rather an adaptation in response to noise during neural information processing.

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