Our postgraduates carry out interesting and often vital research into all manner of subjects across all research areas. Some are interested in politics, others in law, epidemiology, seagrasses or information and communications technology.
To promote their efforts, and to encourage others who are inspired to make their own mark on the world, we present the work of our current and past postgraduate students here.
What Changes in People When They Behave More Rationally?
Human decision-making exhibits predictable patterns of irrationality known as cognitive biases. These cognitive biases compromise people’s ability to get what they want, and are ultimately responsible for a variety of individual and social dysfunction. Previous research has shown that people change their irrational decisions to rational ones when they undergo arbitrage—that is, when someone exploits their irrational decisions to benefit at their expense. There is even evidence that this change may transfer to non-financial domains and other cognitive biases that did not undergo arbitrage.
However, all of this previous work has been done by economists, with the aim of examining the implications that cognitive biases would have for economic theory, and so it has only examined change at the behavioural level. This project will look beyond the behavioural question of whether arbitrage makes people’s decisions more rational, and examine the cognitive question of how it makes them more rational. That is, it will examine what changes in people when they behave more rationally.
Previous work in this domain has generally been done by economists, whose interest is in validating economic models of human behaviour, not in understanding human cognition and how it is affected by arbitrage; thus there is no previous work that examines the central question of this project. But if we could understand what changes in people when they behave more rationally, we may be able to discover general principles underlying the development of human rationality. This would have profound consequences for addressing individual and social dysfunctions, making this an important topic at both the basic and applied levels of research.