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Title: Understanding the ubiquity of self-deception : the evolutionary utility of incorrect information
Author: Rauwolf, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 2770
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2016
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When making decisions, individuals rarely possess all the facts. This can be forgiven in a world where action is time sensitive; life rarely affords the luxury of comprehending all the nuances of an environment. However, individuals do not just ignore valuable information when it is costly to acquire, individuals often ignore veridical information even when it is freely available. Instead of employing an accurate understanding of a situation, individuals frequently make decisions with the aid of ignorance and misunderstanding. This dissertation attempts to examine why. I argue against the notion that such behaviour is always caused by cognitive limitations. Instead, I demonstrate that ignoring veridical information can be advantageous in a variety of contexts. Throughout this work, I examine several settings where research has shown that individuals consistently ignore freely available information. Using a combination of formal analysis and simulations, I demonstrate that such behaviour can be advantageous. Lacking veridical knowledge can be functional in order to navigate cooperative societies (Chapter 3), unpredictable environments (Chapter 4), investment markets (Chapter 5-7), and inefficient institutions (Chapter 8). Not only does this work contribute to explaining previously confusing human behaviour, it offers insight into the potential advantages of self-deception (Chapter 2).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available