DEC Colloquium

Optimally Irrational

Practical information
10 October 2023

ENS, Dussane, 45 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


For a long time, economists have assumed that we were cold, self-centred, rational decision makers – so-called Homo economicus; the last few decades have shattered this view. The world we live in and the situations we face are of course rich and complex, revealing puzzling aspects of our behaviour. Optimally Irrational argues that our improved understanding of human behaviour shows that apparent 'biases' are good solutions to practical problems – that many of the 'flaws' identified by behavioural economics are actually adaptive solutions. This book offers an overview of the literature in behavioural economics and, through the exposition of these flaws and their meaning, presents a unified view on behavioural economics, cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology. It gathers theoretical and empirical evidence about the causes of behavioural 'biases' and proposes a big picture of how to look at human behaviour.

The Cognitive Science Colloquium series is the most attended event of our department, hosting monthly talks by world-renowned experts in various fields of cognitive science, including neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, philosophy and anthropology.

Lionel Page