The Situationist

The Evolutionary Situation of Behavior

Posted by The Situationist Staff on January 28, 2010

Thomas Brennan and Andrew Lo recently published their interesting paper, titled “The Origin of Behavior,” on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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We propose a single evolutionary explanation for the origin of several behaviors that have been observed in organisms ranging from ants to human subjects, including risk-sensitive foraging, risk aversion, loss aversion, probability matching, randomization, and diversification. Given an initial population of individuals, each assigned a purely arbitrary behavior with respect to a binary choice problem, and assuming that offspring behave identically to their parents, only those behaviors linked to reproductive success will survive, and less reproductively successful behaviors will disappear at exponential rates. This framework generates a surprisingly rich set of behaviors, and the simplicity and generality of our model suggest that these behaviors are primitive and universal.

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You can download the paper for free, here.

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