Posts Tagged: sequential search

Paper: Melioration as rational choice

Maximization (…) is not a general explanatory principle for behavior. (…)
Melioration (…) is the dynamic process controlling allocation of time across response alternatives.
Herrnstein & Vaughan (1980). Melioration and behavioral allocation, p. 143+172


Chris R. Sims, Hansjörg Neth, Robert A. JacobsWayne D. Gray

Melioration as rational choice: Sequential decision making in uncertain environments

Abstract:  Melioration — defined as choosing a lesser, local gain over a greater longer term gain — is a behavioral tendency that people and pigeons share.  As such, the empirical occurrence of meliorating behavior has frequently been interpreted as evidence that the mechanisms of human choice violate the norms of economic rationality.  In some environments, the relationship between actions and outcomes is known. In this case, the rationality of choice behavior can be evaluated in terms of how successfully it maximizes utility given knowledge of the environmental contingencies.  In most complex environments, however, the relationship between actions and future outcomes is uncertain and must be learned from experience.  When the difficulty of this learning challenge is taken into account, it is not evident that melioration represents suboptimal choice behavior. 

Paper: Competitive mate choice

Hansjörg Neth, Simeon Schächtele, Sulav Duwal, Peter M. Todd

Competitive mate choice: How need for speed beats quests for quality and harmony

Abstract:  The choice of a mate is made complicated by the need to search for partners at the same time others are searching. What decision strategies will outcompete others in a population of searchers? We extend previous approaches using computer simulations to study mate search strategies by allowing direct competition between multiple strategies, evaluating success on multiple criteria. In a mixed social environment of searchers of different types, simple strategies can exploit more demanding strategies in unexpected ways. We find that simple strategies that only aim for speed can beat more selective strategies that aim to maximize the quality or harmony of mated pairs.

Paper: Melioration dominates maximization

There is no reason to suppose that most human beings are
engaged in maximizing anything unless it be unhappiness,
and even this with incomplete success.
R.H. Coase (1980), The Firm, the Market, and the Law, p. 4

[Copyright neth.de, 2006]:

Hans Neth, Chris Sims, Wayne Gray (2006). Melioration dominates maximization: Stable suboptimal performance despite global feedback. Paper presented at CogSci 2006.

Hansjörg Neth, Chris R. Sims, Wayne D. Gray

Melioration dominates maximization: Stable suboptimal performance despite global feedback

Abstract:  Situations that present individuals with a conflict between local and global gains often evoke a behavioral pattern known as melioration — a preference for immediate rewards over higher long-term gains.  Using a variant of a binary forced- choice paradigm by Tunney & Shanks (2002), we explored the potential role of global feedback as a means to reduce this bias.