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Better Than Conscious?Decision Making, the Human Mind, and Implications For Institutions$
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Christoph Engel and Wolf Singer

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262195805

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262195805.001.0001

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Institutions for Intuitive Man

Institutions for Intuitive Man

(p.391) 18 Institutions for Intuitive Man
Better Than Conscious?

Christoph Engel

The MIT Press

By its critics, the rational choice model is routinely accused of being unrealistic. For all nontrivial problems, calculating the best response is cognitively way too taxing. This, however, is true only for the consciously controlled handling of information. The automatic system handles huge amounts of information in almost no time. Only the end result is propelled back to consciousness as an intuition. Consequently, in appropriate contexts, institutions should in principle see to it that decision makers trust their intuitions. However, accountability, predictability, and regulability are hard to guarantee for intuitive decision making. Intuitive decision making is even more desirable if the underlying social problem is excessively complex or ill-defined. For instance, in simple social dilemmas, a combination of cheater detection and punishing sentiments does the trick. However, intuition can be misled. For instance, punishing sentiments are triggered by a hurt sense of fairness. Now in more complex social dilemmas, there are competing fairness norms, and people intuitively choose with a self-serving bias. In such contexts, institutions must step in so that clashing intuitions do not lead to social unrest.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, competing norms, conscious deliberation, defining uncertainty, institutional design, intuition, intuitive decision making, rational choice model

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