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Paper   IPM / Cognitive Sciences / 16373
School of Cognitive Sciences
  Title:   Individually irrational pruning is essential for ecological rationality in a social context
1.  S. Zendehrouh
2.  M. Nili Ahmadabadi
  Status:   Published
  Journal: Cognitive Psychology
  Vol.:  118
  Year:  2020
  Supported by:  IPM
Heuristics, commonly thought to violate the full rationality assumptions, are paradoxically indispensable parts of our decision-making and learning processes. To resolve this seemingly paradox, there have been several studies in the literature that aim at finding some broad daily life conditions and situations where employing heuristics are rational. However, these researches mainly focus on non-social conditions, whereas, for human beings, social and individual processes are interwoven and it would be better to study them jointly. Here, we study the role of pruning heuristic in individual reinforcement learning in a social context, where our simulated learning agents make many of their decisions relying on others’ knowledge. Our simulation results suggest that the seemingly irrational pruning heuristic leads to less cost in the social settings. That is, we have a meaningfully more social outcome in the presence of this heuristic in social contexts, and social learning helps the agents to learn better where the pruning heuristic is an obstacle in the way of finding the optimal solution in the individual setting. In sum, the synergy between the pruning behavior and social learning leads to ecological rationality.

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