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Information overload for (bounded) rational agents

Pothos, E. M. ORCID: 0000-0003-1919-387X, Lewandowsky, S., Basieva, I. , Barque-Duran, A., Tapper, K. & Khrennikov, A. (2021). Information overload for (bounded) rational agents. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288(1944), article number 20202957. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.2957


Bayesian inference offers an optimal means of processing environmental information and so an advantage in natural selection. We consider the apparent, recent trend in increasing dysfunctional disagreement in e.g. political debate. This is puzzling because Bayesian inference benefits from powerful convergence theorems, precluding dysfunctional disagreement. Information overload is a plausible factor limiting the applicability of full Bayesian inference, but what is the link with dysfunctional disagreement? Individuals striving to be Bayesian-rational, but challenged by information overload, might simplify by using Bayesian Networks or the separation of questions into knowledge partitions, the latter formalized with quantum probability theory. We demonstrate the massive simplification afforded by either approach, but also show how they contribute to dysfunctional disagreement.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Bayesian inference, disagreement, entrenchment, rationality, decision making
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Truthiness Jan 2021.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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