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Optimality and Rationality

Our current research on animal and human decision-making brings together concepts from evolutionary biology (especially Optimal Foraging Theory), from Experimental Psychology (Learning Theory, Matching, Contrast) and from economics (Rationality, Expected Utility Theory). Current members of the group working in this area are Justine Aw, Marco Vasconcelos, Tiago Monteiro, and Alex Kacelnik. Listed below are a few selected publications from our group, for further papers, please see the individual pages of our current group members in this area.

Relevant Publications

Bautista, L. M., J. Tinbergen, et al. (1998). "Optimal foraging and beyond: How starlings cope with changes in food availability." American Naturalist 152(4): 543-561.

Bautista, L. M., J. Tinbergen, et al. (2001). "To walk or to fly? How birds choose among foraging modes." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98(3): 1089-1094.

Kacelnik, A. and B. Marsh (2002). "Cost can increase preference in starlings." Animal Behaviour 63: 245-250.

Kacelnik, A. and F. B. E. Abreu (1998). "Risky choice and Weber's law." Journal of Theoretical Biology 194(2): 289-298.

Kacelnik, A. and J. R. Krebs, Eds. (1997). Yanomamo dreams and starling prey loads: The logic of optimality. Human Nature: a critical reader.

Kacelnik, A., & Bateson, M. (1997). Risk-sensitivity: crossroads for theories of decision-making. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 1 (8): 304-309. Online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1364-6613(97)01093-0.

Kacelnik, A., Ed. (1997). Normative and descriptive models of decision making: time discounting and risk sensitivity. Characterizing Human Psychological Adaptations. Chichester, Ciba Foundation Symposium

Kacelnik, A., Ed. (1998). Normative and descriptive models of decision making: time discounting and risk sensitivity. Rational Models of Cognition. Oxford, OUP.

Kacelnik, A., Ed. (2003). The evolution of patience. Time and Decision: Economic and Psychological Perspective on Intertemporal Choice. New York, Richard Sage.

Kacelnik, A., Ed. (2005). Meanings of rationality. In Rational Animals? Oxford, OUP.

Pompilio, L. and A. Kacelnik (2005). "State dependent learning and suboptimal choice: when starlings prefer long over short delays to food." Animal Behaviour 70: 571-578.

Pompilio, L., A. Kacelnik, et al. (2006). "State-Dependent Learned Valuation Drives Choice in an Invertebrate." Science 311: 1613-1615.

Scharlemann, J., E. CC, et al. (2001). "The Value of a Smile: Game theory with a human face." Journal of Economic Psychology 22(5): 617-640.

Schuck-Paim, C., L. Pompilio, et al. (2004). "State-dependent decisions cause apparent violations of rationality in animal choice." PLOS Biology 2(12): 2305-2315.