Document Detail

Impulsiveness without discounting: the ecological rationality hypothesis.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  15590596     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Observed animal impulsiveness challenges ideas from foraging theory about the fitness value of food rewards, and may play a role in important behavioural phenomena such as cooperation and addiction. Behavioural ecologists usually invoke temporal discounting to explain the evolution of animal impulsiveness. According to the discounting hypothesis, delay reduces the fitness value of the delayed food. We develop an alternative model for the evolution of impulsiveness that does not require discounting. We show that impulsive or short-sighted rules can maximize long-term rates of food intake. The advantages of impulsive rules come from two sources. First, naturally occurring choices have a foreground-background structure that reduces the long-term cost of impulsiveness. Second, impulsive rules have a discrimination advantage because they tend to compare smaller quantities. Discounting contributes little to this result. Although we find that impulsive rules are optimal in a simple foreground-background choice situation in the absence of discounting, in contrast we do not find comparable impulsiveness in binary choice situations even when there is strong discounting.
David W Stephens; Benjamin Kerr; Esteban Fernández-Juricic
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  271     ISSN:  0962-8452     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2004 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2004-12-13     Completed Date:  2005-03-08     Revised Date:  2010-09-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  2459-65     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St Paul, MN 55108-6097, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Feeding Behavior / physiology*
Impulsive Behavior*
Models, Biological*

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