Evolutionary Foundations of Rational Choice

49 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2008 Last revised: 23 Nov 2009

See all articles by Olivier Gossner

Olivier Gossner

Ecole Polytechnique, Paris; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Christoph Kuzmics

University of Graz - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 22, 2009


We study the potential evolutionary appeal of rationality in a model in which different populations differ with respect to their experimentation over rules of behavior. We show that more risky experimentation in the sense of mean preserving spread dominates less risky experimentation. Experimentation over the set of (strictly) rational rules is shown to be universally more risky than, and therefore dominates, any other symmetric form of experimentation. This evolutionary advantage of strict rationality, furthermore, is quantified and shown to be substantial when learning takes place over a limited amount of time, or when the environment is stochastically changing, or when the complexity or the environment is moderately large.

Keywords: rationality, evolution, weak axiom of revealed preferences, strict preference, adaptation

JEL Classification: C73, D01, D11

Suggested Citation

Gossner, Olivier and Kuzmics, Christoph, Evolutionary Foundations of Rational Choice (November 22, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1296656 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1296656

Olivier Gossner

Ecole Polytechnique, Paris ( email )

1 rue Descartes
Paris, 75005

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Christoph Kuzmics (Contact Author)

University of Graz - Department of Economics ( email )

Universitaetsstrasse 15
Graz, 8010

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