Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Science & Space

Researchers show human choice is not rational

See also

Researchers from the Modeling Animal Decisions team at the University of Bristol led by Professor John McNamara of Bristol's School of Mathematics have shown that human decision making that involves choice is not rational in research that was presented in the Jan. 14, 2014, edition of the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.

The results of the study were based on a comparison of primate behavior in selecting food options and the similar behavior of people in selecting houses.

This is the first research that did not rely on the individual changing their minds about and option and the first that proves that two of the key principles of rationality, regularity and transitivity, are not necessarily a function of human choices nor are the two principles of rationality necessary for making the optimum choice for a given individual in a given situation.

Regularity can be considered equivalent to consistency. Transitivity is based on the idea that if a person has a choice of three items in which the third is preferable to the other two by direct comparison the person would rationally opt for the third choice.

Irrational behavior in humans can be attributed to an evolutionary inheritance of the same behavior in primates. Irrational behavior in humans is predicated on the optimal choice having some perceived advantage to the choice maker even if the perceived advantage is neither rational nor actually exists.



  • Gaza school shelled
    Israeli airstrikes topple a school in Gaza suspected of housing rockets; dozens killed
  • Ebola outbreak
    An American with Ebola virus died shortly after boarding three planes
    World News
  • Why dogs smell butts
    Researchers figure out why dogs like to smell each other's butts
  • Time to stop tanning
    The surgeon general advises us not to tan as melanoma cases are on the rise
    Health News
  • Zimmerman lands dream job
    George Zimmerman lands his dream job as a security guard at a gun/motorcycle shop
  • 10 smartest states
    Here are the 10 most educated states in the U.S., did yours make the cut?
    US News

Related Videos:

  • Buzz Aldrin and the American flag on the moon
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//;allowfullscreen=true&amp;autoplay=1"></iframe>
  • Orbital Sciences rocket brings supplies and experiments to space station
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518318477" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url=""></div>
  • Liftoff Apollo 11
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="//;allowfullscreen=true&amp;autoplay=1"></iframe>