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On apparent irrational behaviors : interacting structures and the mind

Gosselin, Pierre and Lotz, Aileen and Wambst, Marc (2013): On apparent irrational behaviors : interacting structures and the mind.

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Abstract

We develop a general method to solve models of interactions between multiple and possibly strategic agents. Our model explains apparently irrational or biased behaviors in a person. We argue that these actions could result from several rational structures having different goals. Our main example is a model of three agents, "conscious", "unconscious", and "body". Our main result states that, for an agent whose unconscious and conscious goals differ, the unconscious may influence the conscious, either directly or indirectly, via a third agent, the body. This three-agent model describes behaviors such as craving, excessive smoking, or sleepiness, to delay or dismiss a task. One of the main result shows that the unconscious' strategic action crucially depends on whether the conscious' actions are complementary in time. When complementary, and if the conscious is not sensitive to unconscious' messages, the unconscious may drive the conscious towards its goals by blurring physical needs. When not complementary, the unconscious may more easily reach his goal by influencing the conscious, be it directly or indirectly.

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