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Natural Selection Might Lead To ‘Irrational’ Behavior

Update Date: Jan 15, 2014 11:43 AM EST

Seemingly irrelevant alternatives are bound to make an influence on the choices we make, according to a new study.

According to the study, optimal choices also have fair chance of violating the principle of transitivity - it might be best to prefer A from A and B, and B from B or C, however to chose C from A or C might not be a preferred choice.

The study, performed by researchers at the University of Bristol are based on two premises. One is that current options are indicative of the likely option in the near future and the other one is that at least one of the option takes a different amount of time to handle.

“I foresaw that inferior options could affect choices, but the finding of intransitive choice is most exciting,” said study’s lead author, Professor John McNamara of Bristol’s School of Mathematics in a press release.

The researchers who conducted the study are part of the Modeling Animal Decisions team at the University of Bristol. The team focuses on the understanding the mental mechanisms from an evolutionary perspective.

The study is being considered in the terms of animals choosing between prey options where each kind of prey takes different amount of time to handle.

Another important aspect of the study is the fact that two of the keystone principles of rationality, regularity and transitivity, cannot be applied easily.

The findings of the study is published in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.

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