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Better Than Conscious? – Decision Making, the Human Mind, and Implications For Institutions - MIT Press Scholarship Online
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Better Than Conscious?: Decision Making, the Human Mind, and Implications For Institutions

Christoph Engel and Wolf Singer


Conscious control enables human decision makers to override routines, to exercise willpower, to find innovative solutions, to learn by instruction, to decide collectively, and to justify their choices. These and many more advantages come, however, at a price. The ability to process information consciously is severely limited. Conscious decision makers are liable to hundreds of biases, yet measured against the norms of rational choice theory, they perform poorly. If they forego conscious control, in appropriate tasks, humans perform surprisingly better. This inaugural Strüngmann Forum Report ex ... More

Keywords: Strüngmann Forum Reports, consciousness, decision making, deliberative decision-making strategies, kexplicit decision-making strategies, free will, implicit decision-making strategies, institutional design, intuitive decision-making strategies

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2008 Print ISBN-13: 9780262195805
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262195805.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Christoph Engel, editor
French Institute of Health and Medical Research

Wolf Singer, editor

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1 Better Than Conscious?

Christoph Engel1 and Wolf Singer2

2 Conscious and Nonconscious Processes

Stanislas Dehaene1,2,3,4

3 The Role of Value Systems in Decision Making

Peter Dayan, gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, UCL, London WC1N 3AR, U.K.

4 Neurobiology of Decision Making

Michael N. Shadlen, Roozbeh Kiani, Timothy D. Hanks, and Anne K. Churchland, howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA 98195–7290, U.S.A.

5 Brain Signatures of Social Decision Making

Kevin McCabe1 and Tania Singer2

6 Neuronal Correlates of Decision Making

Michael Platt, Rapporteur, Peter Dayan, Stanislas Dehaene, Kevin McCabe, Randolf Menzel, Elizabeth Phelps, Hilke Plassmann, Roger Ratcliff, Michael Shadlen and Wolf Singer

7 The Evolution of Implicit and Explicit Decision Making

Robert Kurzban, department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia PA 19104, U.S.A.

8 Passive Parallel Automatic Minimalist Processing

Roger Ratcliff and Gail McKoon, department of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, U.S.A.

9 How Culture and Brain Mechanisms Interact in Decision Making

Merlin Donald, department of Cognitive Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106–7068, U.S.A.

10 Marr, Memory, and Heuristics

Lael J. Schooler, center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 14195 Berlin, Germany

11 Explicit and Implicit Strategies in Decision Making

Christian Keysers, Rapporteur, Robert Boyd, Jonathan Cohen, Merlin Donald, Werner Güth, Eric Johnson, Robert Kurzban, Lael J. Schooler, Jonathan Schooler, Elizabeth Spelke, Julia Trommershäuser

12 How Evolution Outwits Bounded Rationality

Andreas Glöckner, max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, 53113 Bonn, Germany

13 The Evolutionary Biology of Decision Making

Jeffrey R. Stevens, center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 14195 Berlin, Germany

15 Individual Decision Making and the Evolutionary Roots of Institutions

Richard McElreath, Rapporteur, Robert Boyd, Gerd Gigerenzer, Andreas Glöckner, Peter Hammerstein, Robert Kurzban, Stefan Magen, Peter J. Richerson, Arthur Robson, and Jeffrey R. Stevens

16 The Neurobiology of Individual Decision Making, Dualism, and Legal Accountability

Paul W. Glimcher, departments of Neural Science, Economics and Psychology, Center for Neuroeconomics, New York University, New York, NY 10003, U.S.A.

17 Conscious and Nonconscious Cognitive Processes in Jurors’ Decisions

Reid Hastie, center for Decision Research, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, U.S.A.

18 Institutions for Intuitive Man

Christoph Engel, max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, 53113 Bonn, Germany

19 Institutional Design Capitalizing on the Intuitive Nature of Decision Making

Mark Lubell Rapporteur, Christoph Engel, Paul W. Glimcher, Reid Hastie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Bettina Rockenbach, Reinhard Selten, Tania Singer, Elke U. Weber