Goals of the Summer Institute
The aim of the Summer Institute is to provide an interdisciplinary platform for sharing knowledge and discussing the importance and application of simple solutions to complex problems. Participants will be introduced to the sometimes surprisingly different research practices of neighboring fields: psychology, economics, biology, statistics, or philosophy. Seminars, talks, panel discussions, workshops, poster sessions, and informal events will enable and encourage participants to learn and develop new ideas while reflecting upon the widespread assumption that complicated problems necessitate complex solutions.
The Summer Institute is called “Summer Institute on Bounded Rationality” - what do we mean by bounded rationality? In short it refers to how the mind reasons under limited time, information, and computational power. Whereas logic and probability theory assume perfect knowledge about the relevant features of the world, bounded rationality seeks to specify simple step-by-step rules (heuristics) that function well in an uncertain and complex world.
Human problem-solving may also occur in interaction with others. Decisions may have an interactive nature and what is deemed irrational in isolation might be rational in interaction with others. The study of social rationality examines how judgment and decision processes can adapt to these interconnected social environments. This often involves going out of the lab into the field to study problems that occur whenever multiple people in medicine, law, business, and politics have to make decisions.
Another essential concept, “ecological rationality”, refers to the idea that decision mechanisms are adapted to the ecology of the decision maker. The ecology refers to the informational structure within the environment in which the mind makes a decision. There need not be one all-purpose strategy, but rather a set of decision strategies that are specifically adapted to certain types of ecologies. Therefore, the study of ecological rationality explores how these mechanisms exploit the structure of the information in the environment. Through evolution, learning, and culture, a repertoire of specialized cognitive mechanisms (metaphorically known as the "adaptive toolbox") has emerged. These fast and frugal heuristics generally consist of three building blocks: search rule, stopping rule, and decision making.