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Who Is Rational?: Studies of individual Differences in Reasoning Paperback – 12 Apr 1999


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Insighteful book 12 April 2006
By Yeaton Clifton Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book offers valuable insights into human nature. Rationality is not a simple question. Economists consider every one rational in the sense that they choose from options and come to conclusions. Further, they solve problems in terms of the best possible out come and use it as a predictor of human actions. An example is the case of the prisoners who no way of knowing whether the other prisoner confessed. Presumably they would both be better off if neither of them confessed (the states evidence would be week). Both of them would be in very bad shape if they both confess (neither gets to play a star witness in the other's trial and the state would have plenty of evidence). A case where one confesses and the other does not would be the worst case for the person who does not confess and the best for the one who does. The prediction is that what ever the other prisoner does you will make yourself better off by confessing implying that they both confess.

This sort of game would very likely predict the outcome of the interrogations if both people understand the game. You could say that a person who does not understand the game is acting rationally on bad information, but this would leave us with no-useful definition of the difference between rational and irrational behavior. The author makes a study of who can understand problems like these and who cannot. He found that one of the strongest predictors of understanding problems is broad liberal arts education. This implies that reasoning ability develops with mental growth. The book is interesting, well documented, and well presented.
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