The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Rational Behaviour

  • Amartya Sen
Reference work entry


A clear distinction must be drawn between (a) the type of behaviour that might be described as rational, and (b) rational behaviour models that might be useful in making predictions about actual behaviour. Neither of the two standard views of rational behaviour – as ‘consistent choice’ or as ‘self-interest maximization’ – has emerged as an adequate representation of rationality or of actuality. The difficulties that these views encounter carry over to rational behaviour models accommodating uncertainty.


Adaptive expectations Binariness Bounded rationality Cardinal utility Choice Completeness Enforced maximization Exchange Expectation formation Expected utility Externalities Instrumental rationality Natural selection Pareto efficiency Preferences Prisoner’s Dilemma Probability Rational behaviour Rational expectations Revealed preference theory Risk Satisficing Self-interest Sen, A. K. Social norms Strong independence Substantive rationality Sure thing principle Transitivity Uncertainty Utilitarianism 

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Amartya Sen
    • 1
  1. 1.