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Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making - MIT Press Scholarship Online
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Evolution and the Mechanisms of Decision Making

Peter Hammerstein and Jeffrey R. Stevens


How do we make decisions? Perhaps surprisingly, conventional decision theory does not attempt to answer this question. It tells us only which behavioral choices we ought to make if we follow certain axioms. In real life, however, axioms play no role in people's decision making. Our choices are governed instead by cognitive mechanisms shaped over evolutionary time through the process of natural selection. From signal detection and memory to individual and social learning, evolution has created strong biases in how and when we process information, and it is these evolved cognitive building block ... More

Keywords: Strüngmann Forum Reports, decision making, cognition, social cognition, evolution, imitation, natural selection

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780262018081
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262018081.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Peter Hammerstein, editor
Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin

Jeffrey R. Stevens, editor

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1 Six Reasons for Invoking Evolution in Decision Theory

Peter Hammerstein and Jeffrey R. Stevens

Biological and Cognitive Prerequisites

3 Machinery of Cognition

Charles R. Gallistel

5 Error Management

Daniel Nettle

6 Neuroethology of Decision Making

Geoffrey K. Adams, Karli K. Watson, John Pearson, and Michael L. Platt

7 Decision Making

Edward H. Hagen, Nick Chater, Charles R. Gallistel, Alasdair Houston, Alex Kacelnik, Tobias Kalenscher, Daniel Nettle, Danny Oppenheimer, and David W. Stephens

Robustness in a Variable Environment

8 Robustness in Biological and Social Systems

Jessica C. Flack, Peter Hammerstein, and David C. Krakauer

12 Robustness in a Variable Environment

Kevin A. Gluck, John M. McNamara, Henry Brighton, Peter Dayan, Yaakov Kareev, Jens Krause, Robert Kurzban, Reinhard Selten, Jeffrey R. Stevens, Bernhard Voelkl, and William C. Wimsatt

Variation in Decision Making

13 Biological Analogs of Personality

Niels J. Dingemanse and Max Wolf

14 Sources of Variation within the Individual

Gordon D. A. Brown, Alex M. Wood and Nick Chater

15 Variation in Decision Making

Sasha R. X. Dall, Samuel D. Gosling, Gordon D. A. Brown, Niels J. Dingemanse, Ido Erev, Martin Kocher, Laura Schulz, Peter M. Todd, Franjo J. Weissing and Max Wolf

Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Cognition

16 The Cognitive Underpinnings of Social Behavior

Thomas Mussweiler, Andrew R. Todd and Jan Crusius

17 Early Social Cognition

Felix Warneken and Alexandra G. Rosati

18 Who Cares?

Keith Jensen

20 Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Cognition

Thomas Bugnyar, Robert Boyd, Benjamin Bossan, Simon Gächter, Thomas Griffiths, Peter Hammerstein, Keith Jensen, Thomas Mussweiler, Rosemarie Nagel and Felix Warneken