, Volume 19, Issue 3-4, pp 323-336
Date: 30 Sep 2008

Towards a brain-to-society systems model of individual choice

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Canonical models of rational choice fail to account for many forms of motivated adaptive behaviors, specifically in domains such as food selections. To describe behavior in such emotion- and reward-laden scenarios, researchers have proposed dual-process models that posit competition between a slower, analytic faculty and a fast, impulsive, emotional faculty. In this paper, we examine the assumptions and limitations of these approaches to modeling motivated choice. We argue that models of this form, though intuitively attractive, are biologically implausible. We describe an approach to motivated choice based on sequential sampling process models that can form a solid theoretical bridge between what is known about brain function and environmental influences upon choice. We further suggest that the complex and dynamic relationships between biology, behavior, and environment affecting choice at the individual level must inform aggregate models of consumer choice. Models using agent-based complex systems may further provide a principled way to relate individual and aggregate consumer choices to the aggregate choices made by businesses and social institutions. We coin the term “brain-to-society systems” choice model for this broad integrative approach.

Authors include participants to the Brain-to-Society Systems of choice session at the Choice Symposium and members of the research team.
Contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the National Institutes of Health.
An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11002-008-9067-9