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Either, Or: Exploration of an Emerging Decision Theory

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1 Author(s)
Fioretti, G. ; Dept. of Manage. Sci., Univ. of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

A novel decision theory is emerging out of sparse findings in economics, mathematics and, most importantly, psychology and computational cognitive science. It rejects a fundamental assumption of the theory of rational decision making, namely, that uncertain belief rests on independent assessments of utility and probability, and includes envisioning possibilities within its scope. Several researchers working with these premises, independently of one another, have remarked that when decision is made, the positive features of the alternative that will be chosen are highlighted, and that this alternative is opposed to a loosing alternative, whose unpleasant aspects are stressed. By doing so, decision makers construct a coherent framework that provides them with a sense of direction in spite of an uncertain future. This paper frames together contributions from different disciplines, often unknown to one another, with the hope of improving the coordination of research efforts. Furthermore, it discusses the status of this emerging theory with respect to our current idea of rationality. This collection might be useful in order to develop theories and models of decision making in uncertain situations, where consequences are unknown and possibilities must be conceived. It does not provide a simple solution, but it may lay a base for future developments.

Published in:

Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 6 )