Journal article

Computational complexity and human decision-making

C Murawski, P Bossaerts

Trends in Cognitive Sciences | Elsevier | Published : 2017


The rationality principle postulates that decision-makers always choose the best action available to them. It underlies most modern theories of decision-making. The principle does not take into account the difficulty of finding the best option. Here, we propose that computational complexity theory (CCT) provides a framework for defining and quantifying the difficulty of decisions. We review evidence showing that human decision-making is affected by computational complexity. Building on this evidence, we argue that most models of decision-making, and metacognition, are intractable from a computational perspective. To be plausible, future theories of decision-making will need to take into acco..

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Funding Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Juan Pablo Franco Ulla, Nitin Yadav, as well as three anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions, which have substantially improved the manuscript. P.B. received financial support from the University of Melbourne Research at Melbourne Accelerator Program. C.M. received financial support from the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics Strategic Initiatives Fund.