Antifragility, the Black Swan and psychology

A psychological theory of adaptability in evolutionary economies

Abstract

In this paper, we develop a theory of the psychological conditions which contribute to greater survival in complex evolving socioeconomic systems ordered by radically uncertain institutions. We introduce the notion of the antifragile personality, whose personal knowledge of how and why to act in the world grows in the presence of radical uncertainty. We make use of a new theory of the mind as a network structure within and upon which the psychological process operates to elaborate the psychological properties of the antifragile personality and discuss its consonance with aspects of Jungian psychology. We extend aspects of the Schumpeterian, Kirznerian and Lachmannian entrepreneurs, as well as Ulrich Witt’s notions of the necessity of adaptability and imagination and Caroline Gerschlager’s exegesis of “agents of change” by giving them greater foundation in psychology while unifying them by showing how they identify aspects of an underlying antifragile personality. We formulate definite predictions using our theory about the psychological factors in socioeconomic success which align well with existing data and investigate how our theory offers practical advice for strategy in evolutionary socioeconomies ordered by radically uncertain institutions.

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Correspondence to Brendan Markey-Towler.

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Markey-Towler, B. Antifragility, the Black Swan and psychology. Evolut Inst Econ Rev 15, 367–384 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40844-018-0097-6

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Keywords

  • Antifragility
  • Radical uncertainty
  • Knowledge
  • Psychology
  • Evolution
  • Institutions

JEL classifications

  • D01
  • D83
  • D84
  • D90
  • D91
  • O30