Working Paper No. 05-13:
Neuroeconomics and Rationality


Terrence Chorvat, Kevin McCabe

Date Posted: 2005

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The assumption of rationality is both one of the most important and most controversial assumptions of modern economics. This article discusses what current experimental economic as well as neuroscience research tells us about the relationship between rationality and the mechanisms of human decision-making. The article explores the meaning of rationality, with a discussion of the distinction between traditional constructivist rationality and more ecological concepts of rationality. The article argues that ecological notions of rationality more accurately describe both human neural mechanisms as well as a wider variety of human behavior than do constructivist notions of rationality.