This chapter briefly introduces error management theory, an evolutionary framework for understanding how natural selection should be expected to shape decision-making mechanisms. Selection minimizes not the overall rate of error in decision making, but rather the expected fitness burden of error. This means that where the fitness impact of errors is asymmetric (e.g., when failing to run from a predator that is present is more costly than running from a predator which is not in fact there), evolution will favor mechanisms that choose the cheap error much more often than the costly one. This principle can be applied to decision making in many different domains. This chapter discusses the relationships between error management theory and expected utility theory, and the extent to which error management theory can be invoked to explain the prevalence of biased beliefs.
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